When students chose to live in the Graduate Towers, they expected convenience, safety and high rent, but they certainly didn't expect a Thanksgiving dinner as part of the bargain. The two high-rise graduate student dormitories, located between 36th and 37th streets on Chestnut, have locked outer doors and require identification for entry. Although the dorms are convenient and secure, they are divided into singles or small group living arrangements and are reputed to discourage social interaction. In an effort to counter this, the building staffs last Tuesday organized a potluck Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey, dressing and Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, which brought 50 graduate and professional students together in the basement of Graduate Tower A. Through several activites like this each year, the building staffs try to reduce residents' isolation, a product both of the segmented living arrangements and of the students' busy schedules. At last Tuesday's dinner, students from schools ranging from the Wharton School to the School of Social Work to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ate and relaxed in the same room, but many were still divided into groups by school -- a separation which often characterizes interactions between the upper-level students. Organizers of the event said this and other activities, especially those during orientation, are designed to help students cross school lines. But the student diners, many of whom have attended other sponsored events this year, said that despite the activities, divisions among graduate and professional students continue. Senior Residents, who handle many of the events in graduate housing, also plan ventures to nearby attraction including amusement parks, malls, museums, and even to New York City. But only some of the towers' social activities are formally planned. Some students said their favorite and most frequent times to come together each week in the common lounges near the lobby of each building to watch television shows like L.A. Law or The Simpsons. First-year Veterinary student Kirsten Pieper, one of the regulars watching The Simpsons each week, said viewing the show together "is a big-time social hour." The Senior Residents said that of the planned activities, those including food are most popular -- even more than those with alcohol. Pieper said she attended a "Philly Night" where traditional Philadelphia foods were served and an Ice Cream social earlier in this semester which were very popular. Activities like these allow students to meet graduate students in different programs and schools, but Pieper and one of her classmates, first-year Veterinary student Jill Tobias, said people still gravitate toward members of their own program. Senior Residents Amy Kass and Lisa Servon said that there are building-wide activities approximately once a week and events for floor groups of four or five floors once a month. Students said they find out about the planned events through flyers in their intermural mailboxes or posters on walls throughout the graduate buildings. Kass, a second-year Social Work graduate student, and Servon, a third-year Art History graduate student, said turnout, especially for educational events like workshops on stress management or on dissertation techniques, is better among international students. And though continuing the activities throughout the year do open doors for some students, Kass and Servon said orientation week is vital. "If you don't make the effort during the first two weeks people get bogged down," Servon said.Comments powered by Disqus
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