Annual Free GDR Thanksgiving Discontinued

DyAnna Grondahl

In any decision a person, or group of people, makes, the ideal outcome would be that benefits outweigh costs. In the case of the annual GDR Thanksgiving meal, this was not the outcome. In case no one noticed, there was no free Thanksgiving meal this year provided by GDR.

In a conversation with Megan Perry-Spears, the Dean of Students at the College of St. Scholastica, the reasons behind the decision to cut the community event was due to the high cost in labor and funds. It takes a lot of manpower to organize and run such events, and logistically things don’t work out as smoothly with the way GDR is set up. In addition, according to Perry-Spears, ResLife used to have a full staff consisting of five individuals who could program the events and take care of logistics.

At one time, GDR was set up in a more cafeteria-like manner that allowed for more efficient hosting of this sort of major dinner event. It was easier for a multitude of reasons including decorating purposes and more large-scale inclusive seating. In previous years, to promote community and “good juju,” students would be organized to sit with their dignitas classes and other sorts of options to create an atmosphere of inclusion and feeling of “coming together.” With the new layout of GDR, this organisational strategy became less sensical. It was difficult to find space for classes and groups to sit together. The led to the deterioration of the “good juju,” which is the overall goal of the event.

Other logistical concerns existed as well, including whether or not the event should include off-campus students. It was taken into account that to not invite off-campus students would not be very Benedictine, but how are those running the event to know how many people will be in attendance, or much food they need to prepare?

Whenever food is involved, cost is high. While the event is advertised as free, the cost has to be paid. And it is not surprising that much of said cost is folded into the cost of meal plans.

Perry-Spears commented on said issue by saying: “We want to keep the cost of meal plans low, and when you do something like that [GDR free Thanksgiving], what happens is the students who already have a board plan pay, and basically the costs for all non-board payers have to go on somebody, so really it has to get folded into the cost of board. Well, that’s not fair. Right?”

Overall, it came to a simple equation. Add the painstaking logistics to the actual cost of running the event, and weigh that in comparison to the amount of “good juju” and togetherness as a result of the event, and one finds that this investment is indeed not worthwhile. Plus, the meal takes place in very close time proximity with many other foody CSS events, that are to stay in place as strong traditions. According to MPS, no one has really missed it, or at least they haven’t gone to her about concerns regarding the discontinuation. As of now, Christmas and Feast of CSS events are still to be expected. However, the outcomes of how we celebrate the Feast of Saint Scholastica are being evaluated, and celebrations are possibly being reformed. CSS is a community that really loves free food, that much is obvious, but said love can be costly, and so perhaps the cancellation of this one event may not be so maladaptive.