Each September, CMU staff and faculty host a moveable feast called “Progressive Snack,” inviting students into their homes for food and fellowship. (Naturally, it’s a per-course affair.) This year, students organized to return the favour, launching an evening tour of residence hospitality dubbed “Regressive Snack.” All staff and faculty were invited to participate.

On February 13, those attending gathered in the student centre shortly before 9:00 PM where Residence Director Charlie Peronto split the merry band into groups. Each group was assigned a different route through the three residence buildings, along which, denizens of each building would receive the group and ply them for half an hour with tea, treats, and conversation.

Anyone who has ever lived in residence at CMU knows that “9:00 Snack” is the very best time of the day. Whether returning from evening classes or breaking midway through a long night of studying—but especially if both of these are true—Snack is the time for weary students to kick back, let their hair down, and relax with a taste of something sweet.

Further, in addition to much unabashed procrastinating, it is a truth universally acknowledged that the best bonding, the funniest jokes, and many of liveliest debates at CMU transpire over the crowded tables at Snack. In fact, people who know Snack argue it is among the best reasons for choosing dorm life. Thus, it comes as no surprise that students might hope to recreate a version of the Snack experience for those who teach and care for them all year long.

What a tour! On first floor Poettcker Hall we built Lego over double-stuffed Oreos, played pool, and took a tour exploring the endless ingenuity of dorm-room décor. On the third floor, we feasted on delicate arrangements of hummus, pitas, and sliced veggies, while apartment students regaled us about travels in the Middle East and all that they learned from their neighbours abroad. In Katherine Friesen Apartments, senior students treated visitors to home baking made with their very own hands while we chatted about religious diversity on campus and the different ways of praying that had been meaningful to each of us.

And all of this—you may not know how significant it is—all of this was done in February, just before reading week. “Regressive Snack” was touching, not only because students wanted to thank faculty and staff for their love and generosity by welcoming them into their homes. It was touching because, in the busiest, most trying month of a university student’s year, in the dead of winter when everything is harder, students who live at the best of times on significantly less than their professors demonstrated two of CMU’s core institutional commitments: modelling invitational community and exemplifying truly generous hospitality.

The new widow’s mite is a double-stuffed Oreo.

Beth Downey is a CMU staff member.