Dine With a Mind returns after short hiatus

This year, Dine With a Mind ran out of money much earlier than usual, but the university was able to add funding to bring it back.

Dine With a Mind is an advising program in which the school gives students a pair of $3.50 vouchers to “initiate invitations to professors for coffee and conversation in the Mind & Hearth coffee shop,” according to the Whitworth website academic affairs page.

Upon first hearing of the program, assistant professor of English Casey Andrews found the name rather entertaining.

“Minds don’t need food,” Andrews said. “We exist solely on caffeine and liquid.”

Andrews said he hopes the program will continue to exist in future years.

“It is a great opportunity to interact with people who are concerned with the things they are experiencing and learning,” Andrews said.

He described Dine With a Mind as a more robust form of advising and a way to continue conversation about thought-provoking topics that are raised in classes or lectures and can take a variety of forms.

“My first Dine With a Mind was a student who was in the process of converting to an English major,” Andrews said.

Students also schedule Dine With a Mind to discuss political or religious issues that come up in class. They hear what their professors think, discuss shared interests or learn about professors’ research that doesn’t otherwise come up until upper level seminars.

In early February, Dine With a Mind ran out of the allotted and requisitioned funding for the year, but academic affairs added $500 to reopen the program for the year.

“Usually the university puts in $750 and ASWU matches that,” administrative secretary Linda Yochum said.

Laura Cardle, senior accounting major and ASWU financial vice president, said the funding runs out around April most years, so the ASWU requisition was presented and passed at $1,000 for the 2011/2012 academic year.

“We thought since it usually runs out early, let’s see if we can put in a little more and last until the end of the year,” Cardle said.

Given that more was requisitioned than usual, it surprised Cardle when funding ran out in the first week of February. Initially, Cardle thought there might have been an accounting problem.

Both Yochum and Cardle said they were surprised by the program’s increased popularity, but Andrews suggested a possible explanation. “GE 125 classes required students to meet with a

“We’re working with Sodexo to figure out what happened," Cardle said.

However, Yochum looked into that possibility. She went through all the books and checked the numbers Sodexo turned in for the program.

“I’ve gone through [the files] and I’ve talked to Sodexo,” Yochum said. “It’s just a lot of students.”

It is tricky to pin down how many people will be able to use Dine With a Mind, Yochum said. This year, at least 250 students with a full-price drink for themselves and a faculty member used the allotted $1,750.

“Since some won’t use the full amount, we never know the number of people we’ll be able to serve,” Yochum said.

Both Yochum and Cardle said they were surprised by the program’s increased popularity, but Andrews suggested a possible explanation.

“GE 125 classes required students to meet with a professor,” Andrews said.

The exposure of freshmen to Dine With a Mind may well have been a contributor to its sudden rise in use.

“When it first started, not very many students knew about it, but as more freshmen learn about it, I think it will continue to increase,” Yochum said.

Since the program used all of the allotted funding so early this year, Andrews and Yochum said they hope it will be expanded in the future. The university’s response of adding more funds appears to justify their hope.

Cardle said the budgeting is something that any student can have a voice in. The budgeting committee contains both representatives from ASWU and students at-large.

“It just depends on how the students feel about it and ASWU will probably do whatever they want,” Yochum said.

When there isn’t enough budgeted to meet the demands for Dine With a Mind, Yochum said there are two things to do: ask the university to put in more money, such as what happened last week, or put in a requisition proposal during the year to request more funding from ASWU. Since any student can propose a requisition, everyone can have a voice, Yochum said.

Story by Brianna Wheeler Staff Writer

Photo by Greg Moser

Contact Brianna Wheeler at briannawheeler13@my.whitworth.edu.