Dinner prepares students for social, business events

Jay Lively

Do you break bread, or slice it?

Do you pass the salt to the left, or to the right?

Break it, and pass it to the left.

By the way, when you pass the salt, you should always pass the pepper, too.

About 150 students filled the ballroom last night at South Campus to learn proper dinner etiquette as part of the Gordon Ford College of Business Freshman Seminar class.

Robert Jefferson, dean of the college, said the event was designed not only to prepare students for formal dinner engagements, but to give them an advantage in all social and business occasions.

“There are things students need to know,” he said. “We want people to be prepared when they get out of here three or four years down the line. If a student picks up four of five new ideas, they’ll keep using that and continue to learn from them.”

Special guest lecturer for the evening was Treva Mitchell. She said etiquette is first and foremost about consideration of others.

Mitchell, director of Customer Service at the Commonwealth Health Corporation, talked students through the dinner, from standing when a lady arrives at the table to eating dessert with the correct fork.

“We’ve become such a casual society, not eating at the dining room table, going out for fast food,” she said. “If the students take the principles they’ve learned tonight and apply them, it will help them in any social, professional and business setting.”

Alvaton freshman Jason Reagan said the course helped prepare him for the future.

“We learned the do’s and don’t’s that we will need to succeed in the business sector,” he said.

More than anything, Reagan enjoyed the four-course meal that included potato leek soup, dinner salad, chicken marsala and cake.

“For $5, it was a great meal,” he said. “I wish I could eat every night like that.”

Mitchell said there are six basic principles of business etiquette to abide by – be on time, be discreet, be courteous, be concerned with others, dress appropriately and use proper speech.

She said success has a lot to do with confidence.

“If someone is comfortable and secure with business etiquette, they can concentrate on listening and communicating their abilities to the other person,” she continued.

Scottsville freshman Stephanie Colby said the dinner, and the course, has been beneficial by introducing her to things she may never have known otherwise.

“Your momma is going to tell you to wipe your face, but she might not tell you what fork to use,” Colby said. “It levels the playing field. Some people who never learned about etiquette before got to learn about these things.”

Two words kept coming up during the meal – impression and management.

“Students need to think about impression management,” Jefferson said. “They benefit because it improves their self-esteem and confidence.”

Reach Jay Lively at [email protected]