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Ashdown Coffee Hour

Coffee Hour Logo
Coffee Hour Logo

Coffee Hour is Ashdown's weekly social hour during which snacks and refreshments are provided in the Hulsizer Room so that Ashdown residents can take a break from the monotony of graduate life, interact with their fellow residents, and, in some cases, finally get some dinner after a long day at the lab. Held on Thursdays from 9 PM to 10 PM, Coffee Hour is run by Ashdown's Coffee Hour Committee with financial support from the Ashdown Housemasters.

Officially established in 1974, Coffee Hour was founded as the successor to Dr. Avery Ashdown's successful Buttery Hour, which was a bi-weekly gathering started in 1933 and held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings during which cocoa, coffee, and cake were enjoyed by both Ashdown residents and the entire graduate community.

The Buttery Hour was revived by housemasters Robert and Carol Hulsizer in 1974 as Coffee Hour. Every Thursday at 9 PM, "Bob and Carol" would provide coffee, tea, and juice along with small snacks, such as pastries, cookies, cakes, and sometimes ice cream, to hungry graduate students. Eventually, they persuaded the MIT Administration to build a serving counter in W1's Dining Room and often volunteered to help serve, at times, over 350 students from 9 PM to 11 PM. Coffee Hour soon became not only a signature Ashdown tradition but also, given Ashdown's historical status as the center of graduate life at MIT, an important weekly event for the entire graduate community to gather and take a break from research. In fact, various other "Coffee Hours" around campus (including Sidney-Pacific's and the Graduate Student Council's Coffee Hours) trace their inspiration to Ashdown's Coffee Hour.

Coffee Hour at W1 during the early 2000s
Ashdown Coffee Hour at W1 during the early 2000s

When the Hulsizers retired in 1985, as a small gesture for their tremndous work at Ashdown in establishing Coffee Hour, they were gifted a gold encrusted ice cream scoop that they had used to help serve ice cream (sometimes about 18 gallons worth!) during certain "Ice Cream Coffee Hours." Ashdown's main multi-purpose room is named in their honor and is the location where Coffee Hour is still held.

Today, Coffee Hour is run by Ashdown's committed and talented Coffee Hour Committee. Graduate students themselves who serve as Ashdown Officers, the Coffee Hour Committee members prepare and serve small snacks, including meats and cheeses, fresh fruit, salad, homemade guacamole, and ice cream. They also provide various drinks such as juice, tea, coffee, and, during the winter months, hot chocolate and cider. Occassionally, Coffee Hour members host themed Coffee Hours, like the Halloween Pumpkin Carving Contest, Jigsaw Puzzle Night, and Winter Holiday Celebration, as well as some new traditions such as Tie-Dye Night, S'mores Night, and Smoothie Night.

2014-15 Coffee Hour Committee
2014-15 Coffee Hour Committee

Coffee Hour always welcomes volunteers, and anyone interested in helping out can stop by the Hulsizer around 8 PM on Thursday evenings. It is a great opportunity to not only serve the Ashdown Community but also to meet committeed members of the Community and make friends!

Coffee Hour Committee Chairpersons include:

  • 2015-2016: Akshay Agarwal and Nicolas Dumas
  • 2014-2015: Lixin Sun and Mie Kunio
  • 2013-2014: Jess Hebert and Lixin Sun
  • 2012-2013: Cole Shaw and Sarah Thornton
  • 2011-2012: Jingsi Xu and Nina Lee
  • 2010-2011: Han Wang and Jaisree Kannan Iyer

The above information contains information gathered from personal interviews, MIT Tech articles and MIT webpages.

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