For Midnight Breakfast this year, major changes are taking place in contrast to last year, especially the fact that instead of having a DJ like in previous years, the music will be provided by Christmas carolers.
Taking place on Dec. 11 in the Barone Campus Center’s Oak and Dogwood rooms, as opposed to previous years where it has taken place in the Barone Dining Commons, the 16th Annual Midnight Breakfast will have three separate seating times: 7 p.m, 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. The seating times are earlier than previous years and notably, all seating ends an hour before midnight. In 2015, there were two seatings at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. However, last year, an additional time was added, resulting in 8 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. seatings.
In regards to the change from a DJ to Christmas carolers, the Assistant Director for Student Engagement Colleen Wilson noted that, “While the DJ was well-received last year, one of the main comments we received from students was the fact that there was not enough holiday music being played. To help rectify this, we have hired a company of traveling carolers to provide live music entertainment.”
One student who is opposed to the change in the venue’s music, Kelley McSweeney ‘20, felt that, “I’m honestly kind of sad about it. I look forward to midnight breakfast and it made me not want to go. It is hard to dance and sing with your friends to music from carolers no matter how good they are.”
Another student, Olivia Mastroluca ‘20, expressed that it’s “a horrible change.” Sophomore Luke D’Agostino echoed a similar view saying, “It’s lame. People want to bump to the song, ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You,’ compared to a pitchy ‘Silent Night.’ It’s safe to say, I will not be attending.”
The three separate seating times for the event, each lasting for an hour and a half, are aimed at reducing and maintaining the rooms’ respective capacities, since the spaces are smaller than the Barone Dining Hall.
When asked about what prompted the change in venue, the Assistant Vice President of Administration and Student Affairs James Fitzpatrick ‘70 said that, “18 months ago when we started with the plans for renovating the Barone Campus Center Main Dining Room, we knew we were probably going to have a few challenges in that we were taking a facility that was primarily a dining hall, but also functioned as a banquet hall and a multipurpose room, especially during the summer, and we were turning it into a student dining hall.”
When Fitzpatrick spoke about why the new Tully Dining Commons was unsuitable to host Midnight Breakfast, he noted that, “when we looked at that with the architects, we said ‘what problems will that cause?’ Two things came up right away, such as the inability to do wedding receptions for alumni during the summer and the inability to do Midnight Breakfast because of the layout.”
Wilson, in speaking about the layout of the Tully, alluded to the notion that the new space was not conducive for hosting Midnight Breakfast. She felt as though hosting the event would be much easier, logistically speaking, in the Oak and Dogwood rooms because the configuration of these respective rooms is more properly suited to managing three dinner shifts.
With the seating times being before midnight, there could be the argument that it should not be called “Midnight Breakfast” in the first place. In response to this question, Wilson alluded to the notion that, “When we began planning this year’s event, we knew that we wanted to make the event as convenient as we could for faculty and staff to be able to attend. By holding the event from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., many of our staff and faculty members are able to attend following their work day.”
Another one of the notable changes to the event this year would be the fact that tickets are $1; the proceeds from the event will all go to the charity, “Family ReEntry”, which, according to their mission statement on their website, aims “to lead in the development and delivery of effective solutions that empower individuals and strengthen families impacted by the criminal justice system.”
All of the ticket proceeds will be going to this charity and according to Wilson, Campus Ministry will be making use of the proceeds to give holiday presents, such as coats, toys and various other gifts, to children that have parents who are currently in prison.
In terms of the food being offered this year, Wilson pointed out that, “Unlike recent years, this year University staff and faculty will be the ones serving our students the traditional breakfast buffet – think eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries and French toast sticks.”
Fitzpatrick added that the event is beneficial to the University community because, at its inception in 2001, the intention was “to try and give students a study break.” Fitzpatrick noted that a graduate assistant, Erin Morrell, worked with Dean of Students Karen Donoghue ‘03, while she was the FUSA president, to create the event in the hopes of providing students with a study break prior to the start of finals.
“While I’m still planning on attending simply for the sake of the tradition, I’m very disappointed in Fairfield’s decision to change it,” said Davis Doherty ‘19.