On Feb. 3, residents of the graduate residence hall Sidney-Pacific hosted a Sunday brunch for all members of the MIT and graduate community. MIT President L. Rafael Reif and Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education Blanche Staton were invited as special guests to the event.
A team of more than 30 volunteers got up at early hours of the morning to prepare, cook, and serve brunch. Food trays were full of breakfast classics — eggs, sausages, bacon, pancakes, and fruit — in addition to food options for guests with dietary restrictions. As an incentive to enter the brunch early, guests were advised to go eco-friendly by bringing their own reusable plates and utensils to use.
Before brunch officially started, Reif and Staton were led by two Sidney-Pacific Executive Council (SPEC) members on a tour of the graduate residence hall. Then, Reif and Staton were presented with an official red Sidney-Pacific Brunch apron, signifying their welcome to the brunch team. Together with the brunch volunteers, Reif and Staton helped serve food to over 200 attendees.
“Everyone had a great time, and we are very glad that we could do something to benefit the MIT community,” said Sami Yamani, SPEC president and a PhD student in mechanical engineering. “We were all honored to have President Reif and Dean Staton helping us serve brunch to the MIT graduate community and then hang out with students while enjoying their meal.”
The brunches started in 2002 during Sidney-Pacific’s inaugural year as a graduate residence hall. As a way to initiate graduate community within a new space, Roger and Dottie Mark, heads of house for Sidney-Pacific from 2002 to 2013, thought it would be a great idea to have a brunch chair as an officer position.
“We thought having a Sunday brunch would enable the folks to spend some good conversation time with others,” said Dottie Mark.
Added Roger: “Over time, the brunches got better and better as brunch chairs began to compete and get more creative. Everyone seemed to enjoy them.”
Sidney-Pacific brunches are held on a monthly basis during the academic year, with two additional brunches during the summer months. They are open to the entire MIT community and are funded by the Office of Graduate Education (OGE) and Division of Student Life (DSL).
Geeticka Chauhan, resident of Sidney-Pacific and a PhD student in electrical engineering and computer science, said the brunches are an important part to a graduate student’s residence life experience.
“They bring the whole graduate student community together,” Chauhan said. “We have students visiting from all other grad dorms, and sometimes off-campus grad students as well, so being able to bring them all together in a room is a very humbling experience.”