University hosts holiday dinner for thousands of undergraduates
December 03, 2021
December 03, 2021
Faculty and staff carefully straighten their aprons and hang holiday decorations throughout the Mount Carmel Dining Hall — before serving more than 6,000 students festive and delicious holiday dinners each year, as finals approach.
This tradition, which began in 1985 when Jill Martin, professor of legal studies, had the idea of giving students a unique holiday treat as the semester wound down.
“I wanted them to know we care for them and to go home feeling loved,” Martin said. “It gives us an opportunity to see them outside of the classroom as individuals, as part of our community.”
More than 100 faculty and staff members volunteer each year to bring the event to life.
“I love that so many members of the university community take advantage of this opportunity and have a good time,” she said.
Provost Debra Liebowitz helped for her first time Thursday evening.
Having joined the university only 15 months ago, it was her first opportunity to roll up her sleeves and help serve carrots and broccoli.
“This is a lovely opportunity to interact with students, serve them and be part of this important tradition of celebrating the end of the semester,” Liebowitz said.
In addition to the food, there were several stations for students to enjoy ice cream, make gingerbread houses, and take photos with their friends and faculty mentors.
“It truly is a joint effort; we set up, we serve, we bus tables. Not just faculty and staff, but Chartwells Dining Services and facilities jump in and help too. We couldn’t do it without everyone here. Everyone who is here is thrilled to be here – they’re excited and excited to help,” Martin explained.
For the first 30 years, there was a themed T-shirt designed each year, worn by the volunteers. Though that tradition ended in 2014, the organizing committee had the shirts sewn into a quilt, which was on display at the dinner.
Two civil engineering students stopped to admire the blanket on their way into the dinner and Martin was happy to explain its origin to them. It was the first undergraduate holiday dinner for Juliana Sabin ’23.
“I’m looking forward to this time to sit with friends, talk and enjoy their company without the stress of exams on my mind,” she said.
Her friend Sebastian Vacco ’23 reveled in the opportunity to unwind with those he cares about.
“This is always a great event and I think it’s a nice break before that last stressful week of classes and finals before heading home,” he said. “I love being part of this tradition.”
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