CLA students meet with TAs and professors over pizza

Rebecca Czaplewski

Talking and laughing over pizza, some College of Liberal Arts students got a chance to get together with their favorite professor or teaching assistant Wednesday night at the CLA Student Board’s “Food for Thought” dinner.
The dinner, which was held at the Pizza Hut in Dinkytown, is a quarterly function designed to foster good relationships between faculty and students in a relaxed atmosphere, board president Mindy Geiss said.
The main goal of the dinner is to enhance communication between the faculty and students in a comfortable setting. Geiss, a sophomore in psychology and education, said that while the dinner is a nice way to honor professors and teaching assistants, the fact that a student extends this invitation to them is a testament to their value as a teacher.
“It’s not an award for research or the grant money you bring in. It’s an award for being a teacher,” Geiss said. “They walk away with the professors being honored and the students feeling comfortable.”
Board member Shawn Vollmer, a sociology junior, had similar sentiments about the dinner.
“It creates an environment where students and faculty can interact outside of the classroom,” Vollmer said.
The results of getting out of the classroom and into a casual social setting were evident. Senior Sarah Sass and junior Mike Seevers, both psychology majors, joked and laughed with their research instructor, graduate student Marc Kiviniemi, while commenting on why they decided to attend.
“It’s hard to get a chance to talk with your TAs or professors,” Seevers said. “This is a chance to ask things you always wanted to ask and get to know the professors.”
And to eat pizza at the same time. Previously, the event was held in the Coffman Union Campus Club. Board members said the Pizza Hut location was more casual and comfortable.
The board, which is comprised of about 10 members, also plans many other activities throughout the year. Art fairs that showcase student artists, the spring CLA major fair and a spring award banquet are just a few of the board-sponsored events.
Aside from other events sponsored by the board, the “Food for Thought” dinner creates the unique occasion for students and faculty to meet in a social setting. Kiviniemi applauded the goal of the dinner and the unique opportunity it gives to both students and faculty.
“It’s nice to have people working with you who like you enough to take you out for pizza,” Kiviniemi said.