Student-professor drink budget reduced
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 08:10
The Tufts Students and Professors Integrating Reaction, Intellect and Teaching (SPIRIT) Fund, which offers a free beverage to a student and professor at the Tower Café and Brown and Brew to encourage informal discussion beyond the classroom, changed its policy this semester due to budgetary restrictions.
SPIRIT will now only cover the cost of drinks less than $3, according to Dean of Academic Advancement and Undergraduate Study Carmen Lowe.
“It’s great that so many professors are meeting with students beyond the classroom. That’s really important. [It’s] what the SPIRIT Fund was really established for,” she said. “The problem is that it’s been getting very expensive [over] the past couple of years.”
Lowe, along with Director of Dining and Business Services Patricia Klos, reviewed receipts from Tower Café and Brown and Brew before revising the policy to ensure that the program will remain effective, according to Lowe.
“After looking at dining services’ receipts, I discovered that there are only two drinks that cost more than $3, and that’s the premium juices which are the Naked juices and Odwalla juices, and there’s a large spiced chai beverage that costs over $3,” she said. “Everything else is around $1.48.”
Although Lowe’s estimation holds true for Tower Café, several beverages on the menu at Brown and Brew are priced at over $3.
Medium- and large-sized mocha lattes and cappuccinos, as well as specialty coffee drinks like the “Clockwork Orange” and the “Chocolate Corduroy,” would not be covered under the SPIRIT Fund.
Samantha Bloom, a junior who frequently met with her history teaching assistant (TA) last semester, does not believe that placing price limits on the free beverages will have a significant impact on the program because most drinks are under $3 and many students enjoy the informal conversation setting.
“I felt very encouraged to reach out to my TA and have discussions with them about topics related to class even when I didn’t have direct questions about the current topic of study,” Bloom said.
Dean of Academic Affairs for Arts and Sciences James Glaser established SPIRIT’s free beverage program in 2004 after President Emeritus Lawrence Bacow convened a task force on the undergraduate experience, according to Lowe.
“One of the recommendations from the task force was putting a coffee shop in the library, which was a really radical idea back then ... to promote the Tower Café as a place where students and faculty can get together beyond the classroom,” Lowe said.
Associate Professor of Psychology Samuel Sommers said SPIRIT facilitates informal interactions between students and professors, which is important to the intellectual experience on campus.
“One of the biggest advantages of being a student at Tufts is that it’s a small enough university to allow you to get to know your professors,” Sommers said. “In my large lecture classes, I often hold a few coffee hours over the semester when a group of students and I get together for informal conversation about a wide range of topics, both course-related and otherwise.”
SPIRIT will provide faculty members with drink coupons staring in January 2013 to better monitor where the money is being spent and what specific professors are using the fund for, Lowe noted.
“It’s just a sense of accountability and tracking and better planning, since it’s really been hard to manage this budget because I get the receipts from dining services about a month after the fact,” she said.