Broad Street Dinner Series Gives Students Chance to Connect

Stacey Stein

The Broad Street Dinner Series, which offer themed dinners in order to provide students and professors the opportunity to discuss different topics while getting the chance to meet new people, has kicked off this semester.

Senior Danielle Bynoe, who is the Community Leader of Cushman House, created this series. According to Bynoe, last semester there were weekly dinners attended by various student groups and professors. However, she noticed that many of the same students came each week.

“Although I enjoyed seeing all the same lovely faces, I wanted to open up the dialogue to a larger audience,” Bynoe said. “As a result, I thought it would be a great idea to host similar dinners, but at different houses throughout Broad Street.”

Professors are selected based on student feedback, and they work with students to choose a topic. According to Bynoe, there is a wide range for what the topics can be, but they select ones that anybody can discuss.

The most recent dinner was hosted at Bunche House on February 13 and was led by Harry Emerson Fosdick Professor of the Humanities and Native American Studies and Religion Chris Vecsey, who discussed positive sexuality in Navajo myth.

“Professor Vecsey and I were able to combine his academic interests and the theme of the Bunche House to come up with a really interesting topic,” senior Chloe Holt said, who planned the dinner.

“He told the Navajo creation myth, emphasizing the gendered aspects of the Navajo belief and the initial separation of Man and Woman to arrive at a discussion about what positive sexuality actually means,” Holt said.

According to Holt, she was hoping that students from multiple houses would attend in order to foster a good discussion.

“I think there were actually more people there that don’t live in Bunche than do, and everybody had a lot of questions for Professor Vecsey, so I think the goals were achieved,” Holt said. “I think it was a great opening into learning more about the Navajo tribes and American Indian culture in general because I think it broke past a lot of presumptions that people have, and definitely presented an interesting angle from which to consider positive sexuality.”

Senior James Speight has organized a dinner to be held on February 27. This dinner, which was planned in collaboration with the Africana, Latin American, Asian American, and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center, will be a Visions meeting.

“Visions meetings were created years ago to conduct intellectual discussion and inspire meaningful collaborative events that pertain to issues of culture and diversity on campus,” Speight said. “Visions meetings are meant to enhance the community by serving as a public forum to inspire more meaningful collaboration between all types of organizations on campus around issues relating to culture and diversity.”

Unlike most dinners, this one will be student-led.

“Students should attend if they have ideas pertaining to culture and diversity on campus and its advancement, would like to learn more about events being planned by cultural student organizations on campus or would like to collaborate with a cultural student organization on campus for an event,”

Speight said.

Bynoe hopes that students will continue to come and benefit from these events.

“Students should attend these dinners because it’s a great way to meet new peers and learn about interesting topics,” Bynoe said. “Although free food is always an incentive, I truly want students to come to engage with others even if it means partaking in discussions that might be foreign to them or out of their comfort zones.”

Bynoe also hopes that these dinners can provide a unique environment for upperclassman to connect with others.

“As a Community Leader for Residential Life and a member of the Broad Street Association, I have come to learn the importance of actively working to forge connections among groups,” Bynoe said. “I think that this relaxed environment will allow students to authentically discuss their opinions on a variety of social issues.”

Speight agrees that the dinners offer a unique environment.

“I am a big supporter of the initiative because it offers another venue to form community and participate in intellectual discussion outside of the classroom, which I feel many students want, but at times find difficult to locate,” Speight said.

Students interested in attending a dinner should check campus distributions for information on future dinners and to RSVP.