Prior to the pandemic, each house on West Campus hosted a special dinner exclusively for its residents as a Wednesday night tradition. This weekly event included a special menu prepared by each house chef with entertainment hosted by student organizations. Weekly house dinners were a time in which students and faculty came together.
“Sharing a special weekly meal among residents, fellows and staff builds community and fosters connections among House members, an opportunity provided at no additional cost,” said Hans Bethe House Professor-Dean Andrew Hicks, medieval studies.
Lauren Fogel ’22 was a member of Alice Cook House during her sophomore year. Fogel recounts the joy attending house dinners gave her and her fellow residents.
“These dinners allowed us to connect and bond with other residents and faculty. Oftentimes, house fellows would even bring their families,” Fogel said. “These dinners provided a sense of community.”
However, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, weekly house dinners have become a ritual of the past, leaving behind a beloved West Campus tradition enjoyed by students and faculty.
Current Hans Bethe House resident Alexandra Yiachos ’24 believes having house dinners would have been beneficial to her West Campus experience.
“I’d be able to have interesting conversations with professors on their work and learn about things that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise,” Yiachos said. “Having the dinners would have made a greater sense of camaraderie among residents and brought me closer to them.”
However, House leadership says ongoing COVID-19 concerns necessitated the suspension of house dinners.
“Several times over the past year, we planned to restart House Dinners, but like so much else, those plans were interrupted by the rolling waves of COVID-19 variants,” Hicks said.
“I don’t think COVID is the reason they aren’t occurring,” Allison Kozak ’24, resident of William Keeton House said. “I can’t think of a reason why we aren’t having these dinners. It’s something a lot of people were looking forward to so it’s disappointing to not have the dinners.”
Despite the suspension of the Wednesday house dinners, residents are still getting the full value of their meal plan.
“[There’s] the added benefit that, unlike in past years, all of their meal swipes may now be used in any residential dining room, rather than the bulk of meal swipes being limited to West Campus Housing System dining rooms,” Cornell Dining Executive Director Dustin Cutler said.
West Campus house dinners are expected to resume in the fall 2022 semester, according to Hicks.