On Wednesdays, we wear pink — and take Colorado State University faculty out to lunch.
The Complimentary Wednesday Lunch Program gives students the option to take a faculty member to the dining halls, excluding Ram’s Horn Express, Durrell Express or Braiden RamWich, for a free meal. This program does not take up students’ guest passes or weekly swipes.
Housing and Dining Services was looking for new opportunities to connect students with faculty in a more relaxed setting, said Teresa Metzger, the creator of the program and assistant director for academic initiatives.
“When a student goes into office hours, they have this concern, or it feels a certain way. And so I think that (this program) makes (meeting) a little more casual,” Metzger said. “We really want (students) to see (the dining centers) as a place to get things done, much like you do at the library or the LSC. We wanted to kind of keep that going by offering this service.”
Beginning two years ago, the complimentary Wednesday lunch program has brought in more and more students each year. Metzger expects the number of students using the program to increase.
“We had 20 people who used it the first year,” Metzger said. “We bumped up to 50 the year after. We’ll probably get into the 50 range again this year.”
Seeking to foster connection and genuine interaction between students and faculty, the Complimentary Wednesday Lunch Program encourages students with a meal plan to utilize the opportunity.
Programs, like the Presidential Leadership Program, use this dining option to connect with students on a deeper level, said Jess Dyrdahl, previous leadership coordinator for the President’s Leadership Program.
“I think the program is really great because … it (provides) a space that (students) were familiar with,” Dyrdahl said. “Food generally is a natural connector with people, and in that relaxed setting, and really feeling like it’s their space and their time and to also have an extensive time with the students.”
This program is not limited to professors. Students can also swipe in academic support coordinators, advisors and coordinators with learning communities.
The program serves as a tool to help open lines of communication with students. Making them feel comfortable is a priority. It helps build rapport, said Rebecca Villalpando, director of outreach and support.
“When we make our students comfortable, they are more likely to open up and really get to sharing their stories,” Villalpando said. “But also being more comfortable with identifying how we can assist them.”
Laura Studley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @laurastudley_.