By Shauna Golden and Jenelle Cadigan
Walking into the student center, a winter wonderland appears just seconds after opening the door. Friendly snowmen line the tables, as do pine branches and glittering flakes of fake snow. Christmas music echoes throughout the building, playing softly behind the laughs and conversations that come from the students eating their dinner.
This scene is nothing new to Quinnipiac University. On Thursday, Dec. 7, Quinnipiac hosted its annual Holiday Dinner. The festive event has become a school tradition - a tradition that has been around for 33 years.
Jill Martin, professor of law and chair of the Holiday Dinner Committee, has been a part of the Holiday Dinner for all 33 years. In fact, she was one of the people that started the tradition.
“We wanted to get everybody together. It’s the one event on campus, frankly, that has both students, faculty, staff, administration, Chartwells, everybody on campus involved, or can be involved if they so choose,” Martin said. “And we wanted to offer something for the students before they left for the break and before they start their exams.”
Martin based the dinner off of several events she attended as a student at Keuka College. The school hosted a Christmas dinner for the students as well as an Italian dinner where the faculty served the students. Martin decided to use a combination of both as her template for the Holiday Dinner at Quinnipiac.
“In the beginning we played around a bit with the menu and we tried different things, and now we basically have the menu set,” Martin said. “This works really well and it’s a good menu, and you get roast beef or turkey and mashed potatoes with gravy and pasta.”
The Holiday Dinner requires an impressive amount of food preparation, according to Leean Spaulding, the director of dining at Quinnipiac. The staff starts preparing the meal the day before the event. The large food orders and decorations are ordered a month prior.
The food order includes: 320 pounds of roast beef, 560 pounds of roast turkey, 100 pounds of pasta, 15 gallons of marinara sauce, 20 gallons of alfredo sauce, 132 pounds of broccoli, 120 pounds of carrots, 440 pounds of mashed potatoes, 100 dozen dinner rolls and 186 assorted pies.
Preparation for the Holiday Dinner includes more than ordering the food. In fact, the Holiday Dinner Committee holds up to three meetings a year to prepare and organize, and none of it would be possible without the 120 volunteers that pitch in their time each year. For Martin, the students’ reactions are worth all of the dedication and hard work.
Currently, the school gives out 2,000 Holiday Dinner tickets to students. However, only about 1,500 students regularly attend the dinner. Martin would like to see the number grow within the next few years.
“We’d like students to know more about it because we really are trying to give something back to the students. We all know everybody’s stressed now. We all know how busy everybody is. We’re busy, we’re stressed too, but we wanted to do something for an hour to make you have a nice time,” Martin said.