Christmas Dinner at Clarke

By: Ashley Franken

The Christmas dinner at Clarke is a huge hit and tradition. Although I wasn’t able to attend due to spots filling up extremely fast, I had the inside scoop from several who did attend. This event is one you need to dress up for. Girls, break out those winter dresses and guys, a pair of slacks and a nice polo will do the job. Personally, I wish I was able to attend as last year, as many of us can already guess, COVID took this tradition away. When talking with some freshman students, the conversation that I had with Abbey Rhoades stood out to me the most. I asked her what she ate from the dinner and how it was, she answered “I had prime rib, mashed potatoes, rolls, stuffing, caesar salad, and chocolate cake.” Then how does this food compare to the regular meals at Clarke. Abbey was thoroughly impressed and said, “this is one of the best meals I’ve had from Clarke.” After we got through the main topic of food, which of course is always a hit, I asked her some more questions about the environment and what it was like for it being her first time experiencing this tradition, as well as what she would change for the future. Abbey gave her insight, “I wouldn’t change anything. It was very fun for my first time going and I can’t wait to go next year. The atmosphere was so much fun and it felt nice to have something with a lot of people joined together. I really enjoyed the singing at the end of the dinner, especially the songs played over the speakers.” I loved speaking with Abbey about this tradition and her experience with this tradition.

In my opinion, I wish I would have gone but I feel that if this is truly a Clarke tradition, why limit the number of students that can attend. For example, only about 250 students were actually allowed to attend. When in reality, Clarke has an overwhelming number of 634 students, and that’s just undergrad. Many students, like myself, who did not experience this event were disappointed at the sheer number of students they allowed in. Furthermore, why keep this event small? It’s supposed to be a tradition of our Clarke family getting together for a holiday meal…So once again why limit it. I was also not too fond of the fact that more freshmen attended than upperclassmen or even sophomores. In my opinion, I feel we should treat this like an opportunity for those students whose last Christmas dinner at Clarke to get the opportunity to sign up first, and possibly work down the grades from there. Now this would only work if they allowed more to attend and had a set date that people in each grade had to sign up by. Another solution, if Clarke had the time, could be to do a Christmas dinner per grade each night of the first week of December. A final issue that was brought to my attention was what do the students who have specific dietary requirements do? If the dining hall is closed off for this event and the SAC does not offer those options, what does a student do? In many cases, those students had to spend extra money out of their pockets to get food from a nearby restaurant instead of being able to use their meal swipe to get the food they need. As a suggestion, I wonder if the dining hall could prepare a meal for those students before the Christmas dinner and inform them at a time to come pick it up. That way no one is left without a meal.

In conclusion, I think this is an awesome way to connect the Clarke community together; however, I think it was poorly executed. With the suggestions above, I’d be curious to hear what others thought and how they feel the dinner could change to be more inclusive for the whole Clarke community.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

To check out more of Ashley’s stories, visit her blog, TheAshleyAesthetic!

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