Community Dinner: A Community Conversation


Kyron Stevenson, Staff Writer

 Every year people look forward to, or dread, a community event meant to bring students together: community dinner. During the fall season, Bears are asked to dress in class dress every Tuesday and sit at a randomly assigned table to meet new students and possibly find a new friend. Unfortunately, while good in theory, many students on campus have mixed opinions on community dinner as a concept and reality.

 The response for some was simply “I hate community dinner,” which is a fair opinion, yet others had more to say. For example, Beck Miller ’24, who was introduced to community dinner his sophomore year due to COVID-19, feels community dinner is good in theory. However, he does not like newly assigned tables every week and wishes that assigned tables would meet a few times, so that students would have more time to get to know each other better. Once introduced to the idea, many agreed with him. 

 The conversation around community dinner also shifted into bigger topics about gender norms and inclusivity around activities on campus. Jojo Brinkerhoff ’24 and Charlotte Bonomo ’24 led this discussion in saying that community dinner is catered to the majority. If someone is comfortable meeting new people and does varsity sports like soccer, they end up dominating the conversation. Additionally some say many male teachers unconsciously encourage this by only talking to the male athletes at the table, yet there are other people present. Often, tables leave out other afternoon activities like theater, art or music options, and underrepresented sports like volleyball and cross country. 

 We should encourage everyone to speak. Teachers should work with more social students to try and provoke conversations across the entire table. There have been many times when people have done random games during community dinner just to keep everybody engaged in the conversation until the conversation can shift into something more natural. Student leaders should step up and make sure that community dinner can turn into something productive that could help to foster friendships. 

 Asking about people’s favorite TV show, food, artist, or music genre could make all the difference between everyone silently picking at their bread or salad or everyone laughing and connecting with others over some common ground. Sometimes, all it takes is effort.