by Dave Marlow
When you sit down together at the Spartans’ Table, you belong.
Belonging is a primary factor in student retention (Costello, et al., 2022). Students who feel connected to their university are more likely to persist in their educational goals. Interacting informally at the Spartan Cafe in the Campus Life Center or at PerkUp in the Library may encourage at-risk students by giving them a personal connection, allowing them to see your human side, and opening up opportunities for them to ask questions or share information that they would avoid in more formal settings (Tinto, 1975). The Spartans’ Table program provides opportunities for faculty and staff to share a meal or coffee with students, and CAIFS will pick up your tab.
A casual conversation with professionals contributes to students’ career readiness as it offers them experience in soft skills (Guerin, 2015) and social intelligence (Ganaie and Mudasir, 2015) which are critical to success in nearly every career field. The rapport enabled by such conversation also contributes to students’ success in disciplinary content (Granitz, et al., 2009). Finally, connections to campus matter greatly in the student experience (Cuseo, 2008) – especially for students like ours who work multiple jobs, spend little time on campus and view their on-campus time as a necessity rather than a pleasure.
Good things happen when we talk to each other. Sodexo and the Provost’s office, together with the CAIFS team, offers all faculty (adjunct, non-tenure track, and tenure track) and staff (e.g. advisors, students affairs staff, etc.) will buy lunch or coffee for both you and your students up to twice per semester (sign up on the Spartan’s Table website).