Author Topic: Attending Meetings Just for the Food  (Read 4944 times)

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Aria

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Attending Meetings Just for the Food
« on: October 11, 2012, 12:30:35 PM »
It's about midway through the semester, but a student organization of which I'm a board member held our first general meeting yesterday. Traditionally, when an organization holds its first general body meeting, it provides food (usually pizza). We really had no idea how many people would come. We have a very small budget, as we're a relatively new group (this is only our second year), so we could only afford six pizzas.

More people than expected came to the meeting and we were pleased. There was exactly one slice of pizza remaining when we were about to start. When several more people came in at the last minute, the pizza was quickly claimed.

About fifteen minutes into the meeting (which consisted of the board members telling the attendees about our group and its subject matter, plus career and scholarship opportunities in the field), five people toward the back of the room got up and left. About seven others followed suit. All of the people who left had been among the first to get pizza.

After the meeting, my fellow board members and I discussed the people who had left in the middle of the meeting (it only lasted about fifteen more minutes after they left). We ended up without anything to eat. As poor students, we agreed that there wasn't anything wrong with going to a meeting like this just for the food, but we also agreed that "the rule" in such a situation was that you stay for the whole thing. We thought the people who left during the meeting had been rude.

Is there such a rule? Is going to a meeting just for the food rude if you stay for the whole presentation? Were the people who left halfway through rude? Also, it was clear when the line formed that there were quite a few people and not quite enough food. Nevertheless, quite a few people took two slices. Is this rude?

NyaChan

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Re: Attending Meetings Just for the Food
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2012, 12:37:04 PM »
Actually what you described is really common.  In fact, at my school, people would have just taken the food and left if you made it available at the beginning.  Ways to combat it: 1)  send the sign up sheet around at the end so only the people who actually care about the organization will be on your email list and will get invited to future events.  You can announce it like "We'll send a contact sheet around at the end of the meeting, if you have to leave early but would like to be on our list, please come see Person1."  2) Don't serve the food until the end or half way through.  3)  Keep the food aspect of the meeting quiet.


ETA:  I forgot to answer the question!  I don't think it is rude to come to a meeting just for the food as long as you are respectful of the meeting and don't act in ways that make it obvious that you aren't interested.  The leaving halfway thing doesn't even necessarily have to be due to them only wanting food - maybe they realized the group wasn't for them, or they had somewhere they needed to go.  Still, people who are leaving early should be quiet and keep the disruption to a minimum.  Personally, if I go to an event because there is food, I stay for the event unless I actually have to leave (i.e. have class or a meeting).

« Last Edit: October 11, 2012, 12:40:05 PM by NyaChan »

bloo

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Re: Attending Meetings Just for the Food
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2012, 12:43:32 PM »
Actually what you described is really common.  In fact, at my school, people would have just taken the food and left if you made it available at the beginning.  Ways to combat it: 1)  send the sign up sheet around at the end so only the people who actually care about the organization will be on your email list and will get invited to future events.  You can announce it like "We'll send a contact sheet around at the end of the meeting, if you have to leave early but would like to be on our list, please come see Person1."  2) Don't serve the food until the end or half way through.  3)  Keep the food aspect of the meeting quiet.


ETA:  I forgot to answer the question!  I don't think it is rude to come to a meeting just for the food as long as you are respectful of the meeting and don't act in ways that make it obvious that you aren't interested.  The leaving halfway thing doesn't even necessarily have to be due to them only wanting food - maybe they realized the group wasn't for them, or they had somewhere they needed to go.  Still, people who are leaving early should be quiet and keep the disruption to a minimum.  Personally, if I go to an event because there is food, I stay for the event unless I actually have to leave (i.e. have class or a meeting).

How frustrating for you OP!

NyaChan's response is just what I was thinking.

Pigeon

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Re: Attending Meetings Just for the Food
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2012, 01:00:56 PM »
Even if I realized the group wasn't for me, I would stay through the initial presentation.  If I did need to leave, I would, as others have pointed out, do so in a way to cause the least disruption.

For future reference, serve the pizza at the end of the presentation to avoid the same thing happening again.  :)

ETA: If you have a staff/group member who can pick up the pizzas halfway through the meeting, that is.  That's how we handled a similar problem on my campus.  If not, I'm certainly not suggesting buying the pizzas ahead of a presentation and making everyone eat them cold!
« Last Edit: October 11, 2012, 01:03:42 PM by Pigeon »

Shopaholic

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Re: Attending Meetings Just for the Food
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2012, 01:30:14 PM »
Just from looking at your title I thought it was a perfect description of a grad student.

Personally, I don't take food from a seminar I don't plan on attending. But sometimes I find the subject is completely irrelevant to me, or just plain boring and then I leave in the middle so I wouldn't be so quick to conclude that people came just for the food.

I agree with PPs that serving the pizza at the end is your best option.

audrey1962

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Re: Attending Meetings Just for the Food
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2012, 01:51:49 PM »
When I was in grad school and involved in a student organization, we made our events "brown bag" events - i.e., bring your own food. In the rare event we did serve food, we required RSVP's and everyone had to check in before getting any food.

NyaChan

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Re: Attending Meetings Just for the Food
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2012, 02:01:44 PM »
Another thought - If yours is a member organization, be prepared to ask people to leave if they aren't members.  Just last week there was a board meeting for a journal that was only for those who had been accepted.  They served pizza and 2 students from the school just came in and started serving themselves.  The Editor made an announcement that only journal members were allowed to have pizza and everyone else needed to leave - well, the 2 students left, but only after they snagged a couple slices each.  It was especially awkward as we all knew them ::)

jmarvellous

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Re: Attending Meetings Just for the Food
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2012, 02:16:23 PM »
I don't think it's OK to attend a meeting for the food and skip out early. My little sister seems to be invited to 10 recruitment meetings a week with free pizza or barbecue as a college freshman, and even with the ones that she finds out directly contradict her beliefs, she stays till there's a break in the presentation or it's over.

When I was a club president, we ordered pizzas for delivery about 30 minutes after the called start of the meeting. They'd either get permission to come where the meeting was held, or call the orderer to meet them at the door.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Attending Meetings Just for the Food
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2012, 03:11:17 PM »
Yes, I think it is rude to attend a meeting for the food only.  If you have no interest in the group then you should not try to benefit from their generousity. 

In the future, don't bring out the food until after the meeting is over. 

Pippen

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Re: Attending Meetings Just for the Food
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2012, 03:56:19 PM »
Yes, I think it is rude to attend a meeting for the food only.  If you have no interest in the group then you should not try to benefit from their generousity. 

In the future, don't bring out the food until after the meeting is over.

That is the best way of solving it

kitchcat

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Re: Attending Meetings Just for the Food
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2012, 04:52:53 PM »
I would say if they waited until someone had started speaking to leave, then yes, it's rude. However, I think there are circumstances under which it wouldn't be rude.

For example, I went to an event very similar to what you described. It was the club's first meeting of the year, and their flyers said it would be at 6:00, there would be pizza, etc. I showed up at 6:00 and everyone was just eating and socializing. I figured they'd probably start talking soon after, within 10 minutes or so, so I got myself some food and talked to a friend. Well, by 6:35, no one had started talking or indicating they would soon. In fact, a guy with a guitar actually started playing and singing (this isn't a music club and he wasn't a club officer or anything so IDK why he did this) and everyone was watching him play. He kept going on and by 6:45, I basically decided I'd waited long enough and I didn't have time for this because I had other work to do. My friend agreed and we left. Had someone started talking or indicated they would be momentarily, I would have stayed. I felt bad for eating and leaving, but I think if they said the meeting was 6:00, they should have actually started at that time or indicated it was a "pre-meeting social" or something.
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CakeBeret

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Re: Attending Meetings Just for the Food
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2012, 05:00:22 PM »
Yes, I think it is rude to attend a meeting for the food only.  If you have no interest in the group then you should not try to benefit from their generousity. 

In the future, don't bring out the food until after the meeting is over.

I agree wholeheartedly. Going to a meeting for a group you *know* you have no interest in, solely for the purpose of profiting off them, seems selfish and rude.
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Aria

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Re: Attending Meetings Just for the Food
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2012, 07:59:25 PM »
Thanks for the responses. It didn't occur to us serve the pizza at the end of the meeting, but maybe it would have been a good idea. The meeting time was within a period where no students have class and was right when most people have lunch, so we thought it would be a good idea to let everyone get something to eat before we began. I would be concerned that the pizza would be cold if we made everyone wait, but I like Pigeon's idea to have someone come in with the food partway through the meeting.

NyaChan: I can't believe a non-member would show up to a journal meeting and help him/herself to food! That's not something you should have to tell someone is unacceptable.

cheyne

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Re: Attending Meetings Just for the Food
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2012, 08:45:04 PM »
I don't get the "starving students" thing.  Why would graduate students be starving?  Aren't most universities that have graduate programs in large enough cities that there are food pantries or church charities that give away food? 

I don't think that just because they are students they should be given a pass.  If I went to the golf club and attended the ladies league meeting (knowing that I was not going to join) just for the free food I believe most people here would say I was rude.  Why is it different for students?

NyaChan

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Re: Attending Meetings Just for the Food
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2012, 09:01:55 PM »
Well it wasn't the case here, but a lot of groups run by students and also events set up by the school include food as a way of attracting students.  Another reason is that if they have to schedule an event during a meal, they don't want people to not attend because they only have that time to eat between classes or meetings.  Also, student organizations and school events are often funded through tuition paid by students so indirectly, the food is paid for by the attendees.  At my school, professors are required to spend a portion of their salary on food sold by a student organization to help fund grants - it is a way of getting the money back to the people who originally paid it.