all photos courtesy of Thayer Warne
On March 11, students clad in semi-formal dress gathered in Palm Court to eat under the stars at a dinner hosted by the New College Student Alliance (NCSA).
The event was the brainchild of NCSA co-presidents first-year Michael Long and third-year Oliver Peckham. “It was just really weird that we both had the same exact idea,” Long reflected. “Pretty much once that happened, we decided that we had to do this. I don’t even ever think that there was ever any conversation between us. It was just, ‘When is this gonna happen? What weekend are we actually doing this?’”
Long and Peckham started preparing for the dinner two weeks before it happened. Long created the menu. “It was mainly me thinking about what I could do that would appeal to most students,” he said. “We both knew that we needed a vegan and an omnivore option. We sat down and threw around lots of different ideas and offered some suggestions. We tried to keep it as simple as possible and used the freshest ingredients possible and so that’s sort of what we based everything around.”
Long and first-year James Eveland prepared the entrees and salad for the dinner in the dead of the night at the kitchen at Cantina Tuscana where Long used to work. Long said, “We had to do it in the middle of the night pretty much because they needed it in the morning. So we had to go in there at about 10 p.m. I think we left the restaurant around 4 a.m. once we finally got everything cooked and ready.
“We made everything from scratch. All the pasta was homemade — literally homemade pasta,” Long elaborated. “We cooked the tomato sauce for about 8 hours. We started with fresh ripe tomatoes, boiled it down to the tomato sauce. Homemade Alfredo. All fresh vegetables.”
Third-year Johannah Birney made her secret carrot cake recipe and vegan strawberry pie in the kitchen at Four Winds Café.
“The fridge over in our meeting room over there was absolutely full of these giant pots of homemade pasta and sauce and cut vegetables and we were trying to stuff as many carrot cake cupcakes as we possibly could,” Peckham described. “It was a sight to behold, such a stuffed fridge.”
He continued: “I think it [the dinner] ended up looking more legitimate than anyone would have ever expected it would. Tables from Physical Plant, you know a hundred foot roll of plastic table cloth. It ended up turning out really really well. And you know the purpose of the dinner was all about giving ideas to the NCSA and the most popular idea by far was more events like this and I think that’s a success.”
The New Cats performed at the dinner and archived video footage was projected onto a First Court wall facing Palm Court. Before ordering their meals, students were asked to list tasks that they would like the NCSA to tackle on the back of their menus. Peckham reflected that most of the ideas were new to him and Long. Students wrote that they would like the HCL rooms open at night so that they can study in them and also expressed interest in getting a fire pit on campus. Peckham said that opening the HCLs up would be a definite possibility for next semester — citing that Dean of Students Wendy Bashant was very supportive of the idea.
“Back during the campaign, we said something that still holds true,” Peckham said. “That it’s very important not just to ask students to come to the NCSA but to bring the NCSA to the students. I mean, that is our responsibility as public servants — we take that very seriously. Events like this that are maybe a little but sillier, events like casino night and events like the Towne Meeting all go hand in hand in creating an open comfortable venue for students to share their concerns and meet their representatives.”