When my fraternity finally hired a new cook after a year, we were all, understandably, ecstatic. We were finally replacing the same old cafeteria food with new recipes, larger portions, and more flexible dining options. Life was good. But it wasn’t until after the start of the semester that we realized the deeper blessing accompanying our dinner plates.
It’s true, the food is fantastic. But more importantly, dinnertime each weekday has become a place for friendship. Five days a week, 40 guys in the ATO house come together and simply decompress. Meals at the ATO house have forced the majority of us onto the same schedule, since we eat at least one meal a day at the same time. This allows us to catch up, joke around, and ultimately just spend quality time together outside the context of class or weekly chapter meetings.
Hillsdale College students are busy, and meals are often squeezed into whatever time is available to cram a couple calories into our mouths. While most of us have fond memories of mealtimes with our friends in Saga or local restaurants, these gatherings are always the first to be rescheduled and forgotten when the semester heats up and schedules get crowded.
Don’t let this happen. Class is important. Volunteering is important. Studying is important, but so is comradery with your peers. There’s something about sitting down at a table over a meal and simply talking. I’m not sure anyone knows exactly what creates this special phenomenon, but conversations around the dinner table flow in a way rarely found in other settings.
The relationships we cultivate in college are unlike any other we will have throughout our lives, especially at Hillsdale. Friendships here are rooted in a foundation incomparable to other communities. But they’re a flower that only grows if properly maintained. Friendships, especially of the deepest sort, require effort.
Whether it be in Saga, your dorm, or your off-campus house — take the time to have meals with those you care about. You have no idea how big of a difference 30 minutes a day can make in developing relationships with those around us.