Taking it Cheesy: Colgate Cheese & Culture Club

Taking it Cheesy: Colgate Cheese & Culture Club

The Colgate Cheese & Culture Club provides an enjoyable, relaxed space on campus where students passionate or curious about cheese can come together to taste, learn and bond.

While the club is naturally centered around the activity of savoring cheese, sophomore and club secretary Alessia Cawley said that she believes the meetings ultimately transcend the enjoyment of cheese for its own sake.

“Cheese [& Culture] Club helps people explore new cultures and learn through taste exploration,” Cawley said. “We hope to encourage a campus culture of inclusion and awareness of cultural differences through the events we host.”

A typical meeting of the Cheese & Culture Club might involve any number of unique activities, all relating to cheese and usually connecting to a specific culture. Before the pandemic, the club would explore different cultures by showing a presentation on a specific country while handing out the associated cheese samples.

However, the pandemic changed the way the club could operate, forcing leaders to revert to scheduling limited cheese box pickups. Since then, club leaders have been able to seek out new ways for members to simultaneously enjoy cheese and learn about culture together. Junior and club treasurer Samay Gupta explained how club leaders work on planning meetings.

“That is definitely one of the challenges of running this club: coming up with activities for meetings,” Gupta lamented. “Well, one constant is that there’s always cheese at our meetings, it goes without saying. Then we try to find creative ways, stuff that links to cheese.”

In the past, meetings have consisted of everything from a watch party of the Pixar film “Ratatouille” to Kahoot trivia games about cheese and cows. Recently, the club also went on a tour of Jewetts Cheese House, a nearby family business specializing in local and imported cheeses. Ultimately, though, meetings need only involve two fundamental features: people and cheese. 

“For the most part, people are there to socialize, meet new people and just enjoy cheese,” Gupta explained. 

Gupta initially joined the club in his first year on campus because he liked the idea of trying new cheeses for free. Simply put, the leaders of the Cheese & Culture Club are all just cheese lovers. But, this is not to say that the club is using University funding for frivolous gain. 

“Even though all of our meetings are fun, they’re still meetings, and they have to be scheduled and organized in a way that any other meeting would have to be organized,” Gupta explained. “There is a lot of organizational stuff that goes on behind the scenes that the members may not necessarily notice, but it definitely is a lot of work. It’s not just all fun, but it does pay off in the end.”

The club leaders all stressed that this payoff is more found in the people they get to meet and the unique social benefits of the club than in the cheese itself.  

“At the club fair, everyone I talked to from [the Cheese & Culture Club] was so sweet, and I knew that this would be such an amazing group of people to become friends with,” Cawley said. “I love the people who are a part of this club!”

Yet another unique facet of the club is that it attracts all different kinds of students. 

“I feel like we get a very diverse group of members, just because we’re not an interest group,” Gupta pointed out. “You don’t need to be a specific person to like cheese. I meet a lot of different people that I don’t get to meet in other clubs, because otherwise, clubs are mostly focused on a specific activity. But with this club, you get to meet absolutely everyone.”

Senior Peyton Lee, co-vice president of the club, emphasized how members are able to unite around the thing that they all have in common: a distinct love of cheese.

“It feels like the right place to be, it just seems like a good way to spend my time,” Lee said. “Cheese is a good thing to bring people together.”