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Pub sparks scholarly discussion

Marisa Iati | Monday, March 26, 2012

Students and professors can step outside the classroom to discuss intellectual matters in an informal setting through the new Student Pub.

Sophomore Neil Ravindra, academic affairs director for student government, said the Dean’s Fellows, the College of Arts and Letters and student government co-sponsor the Student Pub.

“It’s kind of founded in the idea of the Oxford University pub model where [authors C.S.] Lewis and [J.R.R.] Tolkien used to go to the pub and talk about their different literary ideas over drinks,” he said.

Student body president Pat McCormick said the pub helps foster a “community of learning” on campus, incorporating both faculty and the student body.

“This was another opportunity to really advance this effort in a way where we can create a space on campus that would serve as a place for students and faculty to meet in an informal setting,” McCormick said. “That was something that had been a hope of ours, as a way to try to build up a community of learning here on campus and to provide ways for students and faculty members to come together and get to know each other in a more holistic way.”

Senior Malcolm Phelan, a member of the Dean’s Fellows and coordinator of the Student Pub, said a University alumna developed the idea when she was an undergraduate. Phelan said Assistant Dean Joe Stanfiel later took an interest in the Student Pub and approached student government leaders with the idea.

“[The Student Pub] allows students and professors to relate on a different level, a much more fulfilling level for both parties involved,” Phelan said.

Ravindra said the Student Pub is an opportunity to discuss various issues and promote intellectual engagement outside the classroom.

“[Participants] would be standing or walking around, discussing whatever issue of the times they want to discuss,” he said.

The College and student government held a pilot run of the Student Pub on Friday in the Hospitality Room of South Dining Hall, Ravindra said. He said the event featured free snacks, coffee and soda, as well as alcoholic beverages for purchase.

“In my group, we discussed education reform, healthcare reform, the HHS mandate and also just general Notre Dame stuff, like what Notre Dame students care about or are interested in,” Ravindra said. “There would be maybe a professor sitting at a table and then students would come up to them and introduce themselves and conversation would go from there.”

Ravindra said he thought the pilot run went “wonderfully.”

“I would love to see it become a part of Notre Dame culture, to engage the intellect and stimulate conversation with professors and other students outside the classroom,” he said. “And so it’s just one more venue for students to jump on that opportunity.”

Phelan said he foresees the Student Pub becoming a popular event and, eventually, a tradition.

“Hopefully it’s something that will go on and the demand is here,” he said. “Basically the [first] event went really well. We ended up having 50 people come through.”

Although the Student Pub is currently open only to professors from the College of Arts and Letters, Ravindra said he hopes participation will expand in the future. He said the coordinators are in the process of developing a permanent name for the pub.

The coordinators plan to advertise the Student Pub more in the future, Phelan said.

“We’re going to up the scale a little bit, since the first one went so well, and hopefully we get to the point where it’s kind of standing-room only,” he said.

Ravindra said he is excited about the ongoing development of the pub.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for students,” he said. “It’s still developing, but I think it shows wonderful promise for the future.”