Students and Faculty Gather at Iris Dinner
Aaron Krish
akris8211@uwsp.edu

57 Students and faculty members gathered together to eat and socialize at Universit Dining Service’s bi-annu­al Iris Dinner last week Wednesday, October 24th.

The Iris Dinner, formerly known as the student/faculty dinner, occurred the last four semesters under the direction of University Dining Services Director, Mark Hayes, and University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Residential Living staff. This is the first semester the event used the iris as part of its theme.

“We wanted to brand it. The intent was to create a tradition because ‘student/faculty dinner’ didn’t really embody that idea, and the iris is the school flower,” said Mary Duckworth, Program and Assessment Coordinator for Residential Living.

Hayes brought the idea to UWSP from the previous institution he worked at and contacted Residential Living to help start the event. Since the spring of 2011, the dinner has taken place every semester, and Duckworth confirmed they will con­tinue to offer the event every semes­ter to come.

“I get a lot of feedback from a lot of the faculty members that attend, and almost all the responses are posi­tive and say how much the event was appreciated,” Duckworth said. “Many say that the dinner is so much more than they were expecting!”

The idea behind the dinner is for students to ask a faculty member to attend the event with the student. It is a chance for both students and faculty to see each other in a differ­ent light.

“I think it’s an opportunity for students and faculty to break down barriers that may be present in the classroom, and it’s a great opportu­nity if a student is trying to decide on a major to invite a faculty member in that field and start that new relation­ship,” Duckworth said.

Residential Living also has a pro­gram where faculty members become a mentor andparticipate in many programs that are put on by the staff members of the residence halls. Faculty Mentor Kaz Wawrzaszek and Steiner Hall Academic Resource Coordinator Chelsey Baeb attended the Iris Dinner together as a way to build a relationship for Steiner.

“I think the Iris Dinner is an excellent way to connect students and faculty. The atmosphere is laid-back and open for students and fac­ulty to snack on appetizers, catch up on campus activities and enjoy a very nice dinner together,” Wawrzaszek said. “I’ve looked forward to each dinner and can’t wait for next semes­ter’s event.”

“I thought it was great. The food was absolutely fantastic, and the con­versation was even better. I felt as though—even though I’m already pretty comfortable talking with Kaz—it was great to talk to him in a different environment, one where work and school didn’t dictate the conversation,” Baeb said.

Baeb explained that asking a pro­fessor to attend could be stressful. However, she offers advice to stu­dents who may be in the same situa­tion and hopes that they will initiate some kind of relationship with them.

“If asking seems a bit daunting, it is, but it also isn’t. Your professor is a person just like you,” Baeb said. “There are plenty of opportunities to break the ice and invite the person. You could see them after class, dur­ing an office hour or email them. It may seem a bit nerve-wracking, but it is well worth it.”