Students can now go to office hours with professors for lunch.
Flunch is an SGA initiative that allows students to meet with professors, administrators or other faculty and staff in a more relaxed setting.
“I think it will be an incredible opportunity for students to foster those relationships outside the classroom,” said SGA President Mary Margaret Turton.
The impetus behind the initiative is that students get more out of college when they have relationships with faculty and staff members. Turton referenced a Gallup poll that found a direct correlation between the two, and Flunch aims to help form those relationships.
“I’m so excited about this,” Turton said. “I think this is going to be huge to connect students with those resources to make the best next step.”
At this point, students can only have the lunch in the Foy Dining Hall or at Tiger Zone in Village Dining, but Julianne Lyn, executive vice president of initiatives, said students will also be able to have the lunch in the central dining hall, which is scheduled to be finished in fall 2020.
Flunch cannot be used at off-campus locations or at on-campus food vendors such as Chick-fil-A or Starbucks.
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Students can request two lunches per semester as long as they are an undergraduate student taking at least nine credit hours, and it is completely paid for by Tiger Dining. Students can also have two other guests under the reservation.
“You can bring up to two friends if you want to, because I know some people wouldn’t be comfortable sitting with just them and their professor,” Lyn said. “I know if I were a freshman, I probably wouldn’t be that bold.”
Lyn worked on the program as an assistant vice president of initiatives last year and said the program has been a few years in the making as SGA has worked with Tiger Dining to discuss logistics.
SGA also worked with the Office of Information Technology to launch a website specifically for the program.
When students go to the website, they can select the professor and three preferred dates and times, as well as the reason for the lunch. The faculty or staff member can then accept, deny or request another time, so students don’t have to figure out the time beforehand.
At the lunch, the student will have to present their student ID and the confirmation email.
Turton said she hopes students see Flunch as an opportunity to get more than the normal student-teacher interaction.
“A lot of times when you go to office hours, it’s for an extension on a project or to round up that 0.5 % on a final grade or maybe to take a test early,” Turton said. “I think that this will establish that relationship, so that way students and teachers understand the personal side of that relationship.”
Turton has seen firsthand how these relationships with professors can play a huge role in a student’s journey through college.
“Tracy Richards has been such a mentor to me,” Turton said. “Through her knowledge and her experiences and our friendship, she’s empowered me to make educated decisions that I think I’ll be happy with after college.”
Even having just one person that you can lean on as you transition out of college and look to for guidance can make a huge difference as you’re making decisions that will have impact for years down the line, Turton added.
“I think that there’s going to be so many opportunities just for relationships, which is the most important thing,” Turton said. “This is the Auburn Family. To see that mentorship from faculty or staff to a student is going to be really impactful.”
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