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Marist Dining Hall or Magical Great Hall?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Marist chapter.

“Meet you in the Great Hall at seven!” Hearing this yelled casually by a Marist student might seem a bit strange to an outsider passing through campus. But any true red fox knows that the post-renovation dining hall is commonly referred to as the name of the iconic large space at Hogwarts, the main location of the Harry Potter series, because of its similar spacious ceilings and large lighting fixtures. This past Wednesday, the cafeteria at Marist was actually transformed into a scene from the magical novels and students were able to enjoy Harry Potter themed food and decorations during dinnertime.

Emily Baksa, a Marist graduate and unit marketing coordinator at Marist’s Sodexo, considers herself an avid fan of the novels. Her idea for the Harry Potter event was purposeful and aimed to play off the students’ nickname for the Marist dining hall.

In order to publicize the event, Emily mainly utilized social media. The Facebook event she created sparked conversation and reached 67,000 people. A student ambassador from admissions created a teaser trailer that was launched on YouTube the Monday before the event. Marist Dining Services’ Twitter and Snapchat accounts were also used.

The marketing efforts of Emily and the rest of the Sodexo team paid off as the event was so popular that “twice in the night the line at the north register went all the way to the elevator in the Rotunda.” She reports that 2,161 individuals swiped into the Dining Hall between the normal dinner hours of 4:30 and 7 p.m. This is over 25 percent more students that the cafeteria serves on a typical Wednesday night.

Despite some of the longer lines, Emily says that the feedback from the event was generally positive. Highlights included the homemade butterbeer, picture opportunities with Dumbledore and having the chance to sit with other students at the four elongated House tables in the main part of the hall.

The food served was a combination of British food and treats that were inspired from the Harry Potter books. Executive Chef Anthony Legname contributed the ideas for the haggis, bubble and squeak and Ron’s corned beef sandwich. But, Emily shares, “the bakery was definitely the most fun with snitch cake pops, Happee Birthdae Harry cake and mandrake pots. The gillyweed balls were also one of the most popular items.”

Freshman attendee Katie Miale says, “It was a ton of fun to see them transform the dining hall and everyone got so into it!” Many students sported Harry Potter glasses, scarves and even a few full character costumes. Even the Sodexo staff dressed for the occasion. Bryn Gorberg, junior, enjoyed seeing the staff get involved in the event. “I though Harry Potter night was a great way to transform the dining hall and make it really exciting,” she shares, “I enjoyed the decorations and Sodexo employees all dressed up.”

Emily’s personal favorite part of the event was planning the décor. “There are so many little details I tried to incorporate so that the whole room really tied together from the banners and candles and copies of The Daily Prophet. The opportunities with this series are endless and it’s really fun. The best part of the event was definitely the ‘great hall’. It looked phenomenal with the long tables, house banners and flaming cauldrons.” Although it really is a shame that all of our Hogwarts acceptance letters were lost in the mail, we are lucky to have our own Marist version of the Great Hall to enjoy. We will be eagerly awaiting the next Harry Potter night!

Photographs courtesy of Emily Baksa and Marist Dining

Lizzy is a co-campus correspondent at Marist College where she is majoring in communication and minoring in studio art, spanish and psychology. She runs for the cross country and track teams, is a member of the dance ensemble and PRSSA and serves as the Class of 2016 President. Lizzy is a self-diagnosed peanut butter addict and a fan of snail mail. Follow her on Twitter @ellpeps.