Sitting Down For Too Long: New Four Week Sit-Down Tables

Sit-down has been a tradition at Groton School for ages, and we were lucky enough to be here to celebrate the school’s 129th birthday with the singing of “Blue Bottles” and the communal devouring of our famous ice cream cakes.  This especially meaningful event, however, was spent with the same people that we had been sitting with for the past three weeks. The new four-week rotation of the sit-down tables is taking quite a turn from the usual short and sweet two weeks spent at one table. In the first week everyone would meet new people and possibly strike up some interesting conversation, and during the second week, conversation would either flow more easily or be as rigid and uneventful as the first. However, no matter the quality of conversation or depth of possible friendships made, the purpose of sit-down dinners has been fulfilled, as we get in contact with people we otherwise would never have talked to.

So, who came up with this four-week rotation system?  Apparently not the dining hall prefects, who tried their best to approach the Deans about the subject, but were turned down at every attempt. Even the people at my sit-down table went off about it when I asked their opinions—everyone except the faculty member, who, claiming that two weeks wasn’t enough to get to know everyone at the table, failed to form any long term bonds with the students he had been sitting with for four whole dinners.

In reality, there is no way we can become good friends with the six other students sitting with us, so we might as well get through as many tables as we can and try our bestto remember everyone’s names, in order to greet them as we walk around the Circle.

Besides, the best part of sit-down isn’t the food, or even getting dressed up—it’s finding out who’s at your table. I know I’m not the only one who feels the suspense while walking into the mailroom to find out which secret obsession you’ll have the pleasure of staring across the table at for two—now four—weeks. But once you realize your crush isn’t at your table, and that you’re first week waiter again, the excitement is gone. Now, you’re left wondering what you’re going to wear, or if practice will get out early enough. In all, there are probably about ten minutes of conversation at a sit-down table that don’t consist of “when’s the food getting here,” and that snippet of conversation is usually the faculty member asking cliché questions to the student sitting either across or adjacent to him/her with everyone listening in.

The Deans’ desire is clear: they want to bring us closer as a community by making us spend an extra two meals with the same people, but in reality, how close can a group of seven students and one faculty member become after only one meal a week? Dozens of meals spent with some people won’t even do it for the developing friendship.  Instead of focusing on a set thing like sit-down dinners to bring us closer together, I say the Deans should take it back a notch and focus on the simpler, easier ways to bring our community together, like SAC activities or form trips, because no increase of sit-down dinners will result in the kind of community bonding Groton is trying to achieve.

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