For students who aren’t sure which fork to use at a formal dinner or which direction to pass a breadbasket around the table, the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences (CSAHS) is serving up an etiquette dinner Feb. 15 to answer these dining dilemmas. Hosted at the University Club by U of G president Alastair Summerlee, the dinner will teach students the basics of etiquette in a fun, interactive setting.

“I think this is not only a great opportunity for students to learn these skills, but it also gives them a chance to interact with Alastair,” says Martin Straathof, a fourth-year student in international development and president of the CSAHS Student Alliance.

The event is a collaborative effort between the student alliance and the Mac-FACS-FRAN Alumni Association; the two groups joined forces to create a four-part series of workshops that build relationships between the college’s alumni and students.

The series began in January with a networking workshop hosted by alumna Theresa Firestone, B.A.Sc. ’78, and an interview skills workshop with sociology grad Kara McFarlane, BA ’96. The annual college career night on March 2 will conclude the series. All of the events are designed to give students an opportunity to speak with alumni and apply their networking skills.

Straathof says many students expressed an interest in networking with alumni to find out how they got started in their careers. “The students were looking for more personal contact with alumni to gain professional skills.”

The partnership between alumni and students is mutually beneficial. Alumni can discuss their work experience with students who are eager for tips on how to apply their degrees. Grads from Guelph are very proud of the University, says Sue Wakefield, president of the Mac-FACS-FRAN Alumni Association. “They’re glad to be able to give back to the organization that helped them along the way.”

Organizers hope that events like the etiquette dinner will inspire students to become alumni mentors in the future and stay connected to U of G after graduation.

The Mac-FACS-FRAN Alumni Association approached the CSAHS Student Alliance to find out what types of events students would be interested in attending. A survey of CSAHS students led to the suggestion of an etiquette dinner, which came as a surprise to Wakefield.

“We hadn’t really thought of it,” she says. “The neat thing is we didn’t suggest this; the students did. They said, ‘This is what we need.’”

Tickets for the four-course dinner cost $15. Students in any college are welcome to attend; appropriate business attire is required. To order tickets, contact the CSAHS Student Alliance at