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Food for Thought

What are the odds a student at an Ivy League college will have the chance to sit down with the president of that Ivy League school to discuss critical international, national, and local issues-anything from politics to ethics to campus housing? At Dartmouth, the odds are pretty good. Six, sometimes as many as eight, afternoons every term, President James Wright hosts a small group of students in his office for lunch and some informal conversation. There is no more agenda than that-just lunch and intellectual exploration.

These luncheons provide a valuable opportunity for the president to get direct and immediate feedback from students about their concerns and interests. Zach Rubeo '05, this year's presidential intern, is responsible for notifying all students of the luncheon schedule at the beginning of each term and signing up those who want to attend. Demand is high, but only ten students may attend any one lunch to ensure optimal dynamics. Consequently, "there's always a waiting list," notes Rubeo, who moves students from that list to first in line for the next event.

Rubeo also emails participants after they have dined with the president to thank them for attending and to get their perspectives on the experience. He says students often tell him they enjoyed seeing the president in a different light. "A lot of them have misconceptions about how President Wright works, how he makes decisions concerning the student body. These lunches give them a chance to see him as a person rather than an administrator."

Participants also appreciate having a forum to express their concerns directly to the man responsible for leading the College, notes Amie Sugarman '07. "I think the president's lunches afford students with the wonderful opportunity to voice our opinions and concerns to the person who has the greatest ability to shape the College to meet our desires," she says.

Sugarman was among the group of students who lunched with the president on November 17; some of them are pictured above. In addition to Sugarman, others at the November 17 luncheon included Mikhail Belinskiy '08, Steven Koutsavlis '05, Soojin Lee '08, David Quaid '06, Juliette Tang '07, Jennifer Taylor '08, Christopher Wilt '07, and Eric Winer '08.

By Anita Warren

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Last Updated: 5/30/08