A holiday feast

University prepares for 31st annual Holiday Dinner

By on December 10, 2015
Anna Spragg smiles while serving food at the Undergraduate Holiday Dinner which was held at Quinnipiac University's Carl Hansen Student Center on the Mount Carmel Campus, Thursday, December 4, 2014. Photography by Johnathon HenningerCaroline Couig

Anna Spragg smiles while serving food at the Undergraduate Holiday Dinner which was held at Quinnipiac University’s Carl Hansen Student Center on the Mount Carmel Campus, Thursday, December 4, 2014. Photography by Johnathon Henninger

This week, the undergraduate Holiday Dinner planning committee is hard at work finalizing the 31st annual feast for students.

The Holiday Dinner will take place on Thursday, Dec. 10 in Cafe Q. Students can download free tickets to attend one of five service times: 4:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The event is catered by Chartwells and staffed by a volunteer team of university faculty and staff.  

Professor Jill Martin, the chair of the legal studies department and head of the Holiday Dinner planning committee, is expecting approximately 1,400 students and 120 volunteers to attend the dinner this year.

“There are people who have been doing this for 31 years; they come back year after year,” Martin said. “Everybody who volunteers does it because they want students to have a nice end-of-the-semester event.”

Faculty and staff volunteers typically arrive at 4 p.m. to help set up for the dinner, according to Martin. They serve food and drinks to students throughout the dinner and bus all the tables at the end.

Spanish professor Aileen Dever said she volunteers at the dinner because it’s “great fun” serving the students.

“It’s sometimes a difficult time of year for students with the end of the semester and exams,” she said. “So this is a particularly wonderful interlude and a way for the professors to give back to the students and show them how much we appreciate them.”

Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, assistant professor of legal studies, said she enjoys the interaction between students, faculty and staff throughout the evening.

“My favorite part of the dinner occurs at the very end of the evening when the volunteer faculty and staff members have the opportunity to have some food, sit down together, share stories and engage in conversation,” she said.

Preparations for the Holiday Dinner begin as early as September and continue through December, according to Martin. The planning committee is in charge of choosing a date and time for the dinner, as well as organizing ticket sales, decorations, themes, food and beverages.

Martin said that a few changes have occurred since the first Holiday Dinner in 1985, such as a change in venue and the number of students served.

“We used to be in the Alumni Hall, which is now the Student Center Piazza, but the location changed to the dining hall about five or six years ago,” she said. “At the first Holiday Dinner in 1985, Quinnipiac was a much smaller school and we served all the students.”

Now that the university has expanded, not all undergraduate students can attend the dinner, but many students appreciate the faculty and staff who volunteer.

Junior Hannah Zomback has attended the last two Holiday Dinners and said she enjoyed them.

“It was a nice break from the normal cafe food, plus nothing beats a free meal,” she said.

Sophomore Dorah Labatte has never attended the Holiday Dinner, but said she has always been meaning to.

“I think it’s a really good idea – it’s free food, which college students love, and it’s a reason for QU students to get together so I feel like it builds a sense of community,” Labatte said.

The Facilities Department and staff volunteers will begin setting up in the cafe and rearranging tables on Thursday afternoon, and Martin said she is excited for this year’s dinner.

“This is the one event we feel involves everybody in the community – students, faculty, staff, Facilities, Chartwells…people from all over the university are a part of it,” Martin said. “It’s a really nice event for the students, and I hope that students enjoy it because we enjoy doing it for them.”

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