‘Tis the season for holiday celebrations, and at Collins Living Learning Center, it’s time for the annual Dickens Dinner.
From 5:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 1, the Collins dining hall will be open for students to eat a festive meal and watch a play. Students may bring along a professor or faculty member as a guest. The cost is $10 per person, and students pay at the door.
“The atmosphere is incredible with the decorations and semiformal and even period dress,” Board of Governors Vice President Pealer Bryniarski said.
The Dickens Dinner, named for renowned author Charles Dickens, has occurred at Collins since 1978. It is put on by the Board of Programmers and Residential Programming and Services.
The dining hall is decorated with table cloths and candles for the event. Open flames are usually prohibited in dorm buildings for safety reasons, but the Dickens Dinner is an exception.
Some students also wear old-fashioned clothing or dress up as a character from a Charles Dickens novel to match the theme, and others just dress nicely.
“I don’t have any petticoats or top hats, unfortunately,” Board of Programmers Vice President Austin Van Scoik said.
As part of the tradition, Collins residents are allowed to invite either a professor or faculty member to dine with them.
“The academic interest brought by the professors is really interesting,” Bryniarski said.
Meals can be bought with I-BUCKS. Students can pay for their guest’s meal themselves, or Collins residents may sign up on a sheet in the duty office at Collins to get the cost of their guest’s meal comped.
“I know students use it as an opportunity to warm up to professors,” Van Scoik said. “It’s a fun thing for people that like their professors and want to chat outside of a classroom environment.”
The meal is different from normal food served at Collins. RPS is in charge of hiring chefs and supplying food that is otherwise not served in the Collins dining hall, and the Board of Governors is tasked with decorating and advertising.
Though it is mainly focused toward Collins residents, others may join for the meal. Alumni and former faculty, in particular, often attend the dinner.
“It’s good to see them come and represent the past of Collins because Collins is really big on tradition,” Van Scoik said. “Having them come and interact with the new students — it’s really nice to see.”
Stephón Gilder, the Collins president, read the last section of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at last year’s dinner. This year, the board is performing a short play during the dinner. Van Scoik said the entertainment isn’t meant to last for long, but its purpose is to make connections with the Charles Dickens novella.
“Dress up just a little, and don’t be afraid to invite a professor you like,” Bryniarski said. “Let them know it’ll be free and delicious in a beautiful historic space — it’ll be a fantastic way to get to know your instructor better.”
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