Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

How to (Politely) Win Friends and Influence People

<ent walks into a bar and pays the bartender a ten to fifteen percent tip. Is this polite, or should the student tip more?

“(The Etiquette Dinner was) a theoretical discussion of how to behave and why over a four course meal in the great hall facilitated by Professor Jackson Bryce,” said Cooper Buss ‘13, Program Assistant for Student Leadership and Involvement.

Buss worked hard to create a memorable etiquette dinner for this year. “Last year’s etiquette dinner was exactly what you would expect: an instructor went through dress codes and table manners, answering questions about specifics as we went along…I wanted to force students to really think about conduct and manners rather than just being lectured at.”

He decided to make the dinner a discussion about etiquette. “The dinner would be a forum for facilitated discussion on what etiquette really means, its purposes, and downsides,” he said. “From there I came up with the concept of Metaquette and branded the event as such alongside a bowtie.”

The dinner focused primarily on understanding etiquette rather than on memorizing it. Buss explained that the dinner “was not designed to give people answers, but understanding” of  “the rationale for etiquette.” In light of an individual’s ability to know why to act, he said they no longer need the more specific how.

In order to help facilitate this learning, various aspects of etiquette were discussed. “We widened the idea of “etiquette” to include social convention, manners, courtesy, graciousness, kindness, and such, and we managed to get a large group discussion going all over Great Hall as well as small group discussions at individual tables,” said Jackson Bryce, Professor Emeritus of Classics, who led the Etiquette Dinner discussion.

Students thoroughly enjoyed the Etiquette Dinner. “I thought the etiquette dinner was both enjoyable and thought-provoking,” said Karen Eash ’13.

The discussion about the nature of etiquette particularly interested students. “Though we were given etiquette guides that covered most of the “do’s and don’ts,” I though the best part was the discussion Jackson Bryce led about etiquette. It turned into a typical Carleton lecture and Bryce allowed us to question the nature of etiquette,” said Joe Soonthornsawad ’15.

Of course, the students had widely different ideas on this nature. “Some people thought it solidified class hierarchies while others saw it as a system of courtesies we can use to treat others well,” said Soonthornsawad. “It was great to think about etiquette beyond the soup spoon and more as important systems of meaning we navigate everyday, systems with a purpose.”

Students left the etiquette dinner with a greater understanding of etiquette’s role in their lives, particularly how it might affect them in the future,

“I think the dinner, specifically the information provided about dress codes and table manners, will help me at future job interviews and important events,” said Eash.

Soonthornsawad agreed. “I think I’ll be more conscious of my manners and behavior towards others in the future… the dinner encouraged me to incorporate my own understanding of etiquette in my daily life, which will definitely be valuable to me in the future.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *