Thanksgiving at DePauw: Students staying on campus can still enjoy the holiday

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Thanksgiving break is known for eating copious amounts of food, watching football and spending time with friends and family, but not everyone at DePauw gets to experience this time off in such a traditional way.

The short five days of Thanksgiving break can restrict the ability to travel home for students with long trips to make, like first-year Kaitlyn Malley.

“Plane companies make it really expensive to fly around Thanksgiving, I would only be home for a couple of days, it’s such a long flight and I’ll be home in two weeks anyway for Christmas Break so I might as well just wait it out here,” Malley said.

International students are in a similar situation; unless they receive an invitation from roommates or friends for the holiday, they find themselves spending Thanksgiving on campus.

The majority of DePauw students return home for the break. Last year, only 247 students, or about 10 percent of total students, remained on campus for at least a part of Thanksgiving break, said the Assistant Dean of Student Life and Director of Housing, Greg Dillon.

“Now, that may mean that they weren’t going to be able to leave until Wednesday afternoon, and so they registered to stay, it might mean that they were going to be here for a longer term than that,” Dillon noted, proving that even less than that mere 10 percent remain on campus for the entirety of the break.

While many of the students will leave campus, “Public Safety is staffed 24 hours, seven days a week, and we’ve got a limited version of our regular on-call set of folks around,” Dillon said.

However, a large part of student life will be missing along with the majority of the student body.

Campus is shutting down its dining services during Thanksgiving Break. As students have been informed through several recent emails, Bon Appetit will not be serving meals during the break: the Hub will serve its last meal on Tuesday evening, and the Hub Express will close on Wednesday. Students will have to depend on local restaurants or their dorm kitchens during the break.

“I wouldn’t mind being lonely and all the people being gone if they would keep some facilities open and I could still go get lunch and dinner,” Malley said.

First-year Yaoqin Xiao shared this sentiment.

“I think the [biggest] problem [is] that we have to cook ourselves," Xiao said.

While day-to-day meals require the students to be more independent, students need not fear missing out on the holiday: both DePauw and the Greencastle community provide plenty of opportunities for Thanksgiving festivities.

“We remind [the international students] that local restaurants do Thanksgiving meals, and the Inn offers a special Thanksgiving Meal, Putnam Inn does as well, and then we have a lot of events on campus—often more than what you would expect,” said Director of International Student Services, Aliza Frame.

Along with these options within the community, DePauw provides two on-campus Thanksgiving events open to all students. Intercultural Life is sponsoring an “Indiana-style” Thanksgiving dinner the Monday before Thanksgiving Break, and the Hartman House is offering a Thanksgiving cooking party on the following Wednesday.

International students also have the choice of having a more intimate Thanksgiving experience as a part of their introduction to the holiday.  

“People are kind of aware that international students will be on campus, and it’s a very American holiday," Frame said. "Also local families, even church communities, will often reach out and say ‘hey, we’d really love to invite international students, we know they’re probably on campus and may not have anywhere to go, and we’d like to invite them.'"

A request also goes out to faculty and staff letting them know that if they're interested in sharing the holiday with an international student, that would be appreciated.

International students are also each assigned to a host family at the beginning of the year, who often will invite the international students to have Thanksgiving dinner with them.

“Acknowledging that they’re here and that they’re staying on campus is really important, so we just sort of want to make sure that they feel that people are thinking of them,” Frame said.”When a lot of students have families nearby to go to, and that it’s clear that as a community we make an effort to include them and provide opportunities for them to also have a fun time while they’re on break even though if they’re staying, that there’s fun stuff to do.”

For the rest of the break, students will have time to relax and enjoy a quiet campus.

“I’ll just stay in my dorm room, [reading], and do my homework, finish an essay or paper, [because] everything is closed,” Xiao said. “[I’ll] relax myself, watch a movie, or listen to music.”