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Student government initiates ‘coffee hours’ program

| Monday, January 26, 2015

Notre Dame’s student government has started a new initiative this semester called “Coffee Hours” in which students can invite their professors to Starbucks and the Student Government will pay for their coffee.

Student body president Lauren Vidal said this initiative was on her mind even before she was elected for the 2014-2015 term.

“When Matt and I ran for office, we included an idea for ‘happy hours’ with professors and coffee,” Vidal said. “We truly value the out-of-classroom experience and conversation between students and faculty, and we wanted to find an active and meaningful way to encourage just that.”

Coffee hours will not take the place of already existing office hours; however, coffee hours will provide a different and unique setting for students to ask teachers questions about course material or simply talk about their lives,” student government director of academic affairs Michelle Lacouture said.

“Coffee hours and office hours can definitely coexist with one another,” Lacouture, who headed the initiative, said. “Coffee hours is a more intimate and relaxed meeting that you can schedule at a time that fits for you.”

Coffee hours is also distinct from traditional office hours in that the conversation need not focus strictly on academics.

“We hope that students use the meetings to continue working on language proficiency, discuss with their professor various internships, grow closer to their professor as a mentor,” Lacouture said. “… It’s an open conversation.”

Vidal said she hopes the informal nature of coffee hours will appeal to students and make them more willing to meet outside of class with their professors.

“It will give some structure to what students may otherwise be somewhat hesitate to initiate, especially as underclassmen,” Vidal said. “We also hope it will allow students capitalize on the knowledge that can be gained from one-on-one conversations with professors.”

Lacouture said she hopes coffee hours will provide a new method for professors to mentor students outside of a classroom setting.

“We talk a lot about mentoring, and we have lots of mentoring programs, but that’s not always super effective for everyone,” she said. “In coffee hours, the conversation is organic and can grow, connecting students and professors in a different matter than is already offered.”

Students can sign up for coffee hours online at the Student Government website. Registering your coffee hours earns students a $10 voucher to Starbucks, which they can then pick up from the Student Government office on the second floor of LaFortune.

“It takes the financial responsibility off of you and your professor, making it easier to invite them,” Lacouture said.

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