On campus for the holiday

University adds initiatives to accomodate students who can’t go home for Thanksgiving

Leonard cafeteria will host a new holiday dinner on Sunday for residents who stick around for the weekend.
Leonard cafeteria will host a new holiday dinner on Sunday for residents who stick around for the weekend.
Photo: 
While most students venture off campus for the holidays, some are grounded by commitments in Kingston or the high cost of travelling home.
While most students venture off campus for the holidays, some are grounded by commitments in Kingston or the high cost of travelling home.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

Dan Rosenbaum hasn’t been home for Thanksgiving since starting at Queen’s.

The men’s volleyball player will spend another holiday away from his native Hamilton for an exhibition game against the Laval Rouge et Or this weekend.

“Usually a lot of guys on the team get together and get Swiss Chalet for dinner on Sunday,” Rosenbaum, ArtSci ’12, said.

“We call it sad Thanksgiving.”

In the past, Rosenbaum joined his roommate’s family in Kingston for Thanksgiving dinner.

“I’m really fortunate to spend time with someone’s family,” he said. “Even if it isn’t my own.”

This year, Queen’s created additional programming to support students who stay on campus for the holiday.

Hospitality Services General Manager Jolie Manson said Leonard Cafeteria will host a formal dinner on Sunday night.

“It’s a place for community,” she said. “Not just dining.”

For $12.75, the cafeteria will serve typical Thanksgiving fare like turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.

Mandatory formal attire will give the meal a traditional family function feel, Manson said.

“It’s a much more elegant dining opportunity,” she said, adding that Hospitality Services is expecting a 200-person turnout.

“I’m hoping that students who have stayed for the Thanksgiving holiday get the sense that their family here at Queen’s has provided that experience for them,” Manson said.

Staff and faculty will be allowed to join students in Leonard.

Though Hospitality Services is hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the first time, the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) has held a potluck on holiday Monday for over 30 years.

The dinner is geared at international students who can’t make it home for the Thanksgiving weekend.

“There are other people who are farther away from home who might just want to share that holiday time here,” Susan Anderson, QUIC assistant director, said.

She said Thanksgiving is an ideal holiday for multiple groups in the school to come together because the celebration has no religious ties.

“In many countries of the world, at different times, there are people who give thanks for the harvest,” Anderson said. “I don’t know that Oct. 10 has a particular meaning for everybody, but I think that the general intention of the meal and time together has a meaning for everyone.”

QUIC is planning to host 70 to 90 people at this year’s dinner. The dinner isn’t widely advertised because the fire code in their office limits an attendance of 90 people at the event.

Anderson said the dinner guests bring dishes not traditionally associated with the Thanksgiving holiday.

“It’s a cool extension of what people think Thanksgiving normally should be like,” she said.

Anderson has been busy gathering fall leaves to dress the dinner table with. She said even small festive decorations help students feel more at home.

“It’s really a fun time,” Anderson said. “People come and sit at this big long table and wear name tags and share their stories.

“Any opportunity for people to get together and feel like they’re part of what’s going on in Canada I think is an amazing experience.” Inderpreet Gil was the only one on her floor in residence over Thanksgiving last year.

“It was too quiet,” she said. “Scary, almost.”

Gil, ArtSci ’14, is from Vancouver, so a roundtrip flight home can cost over $1,000.

“It’s not practical to be home,” she said. “It’s too expensive to fly back for three days.”

Gil said she didn’t base her choice of university on its proximity to home. Holidays like Thanksgiving though, emphasize the distance and make her wish she had attended a university in B.C.

She said she misses “the comfort of knowing you’re close to home so you can go if you want to go home.”

— With files from Terra-Ann Arnone

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