Columbia and Barnard students gathered in Barnard’s Sulzberger Parlor Wednesday evening to sip wine and socialize as part of Sherry Hour.
A tradition common at many small liberal arts schools, Sherry Hour is an informal cocktail party offering a space for students, professors, and alumni to get to know each other in a non-academic setting.
At the Sulzberger event, which was hosted by Barnard President Debora Spar, students and their guests mingled over cheese, fruit, and light pastries, while drinking sherry and sparkling water.
The idea of the event was for Barnard students to invite guests from anywhere in the Columbia community in order to create inter-college friendships.
Daniela Kempf, professor of public speaking and manager of the Speaking Fellows Program at Barnard, was invited to the event by her senior speaking fellow, Tabia Santos, BC ’13. Kempf called Sherry Hour “a fantastic idea.”
“It makes us feel like we’re part of a larger tradition,” Kempf said, “like part of a larger academic community.” It was a “great chance to have meaningful cross-major and cross-departmental discussions,” she said.
Sasha Stedronsky, BC ’15 and Maryam Masood, BC ’15, planned the event. Stedronsky said she got the idea from her father, a Williams College alumnus who remembered weekly Sherry Hours as a big part of his liberal arts college experience. Stedronsky said she hopes to foster more of a community vibe on campus through these events.
Sherry Hour “was the way he got to know some of his favorite professors, and other students who were interested in the same things he was interested in,” she said. “I thought Barnard would be a wonderful place to have it, especially with Columbia across the street. I thought it would be a great way to get people on Barnard campus who normally wouldn’t come here.”
Stedronsky presented her idea last spring to Spar during one of her office hours.
“It was a great idea, and Sasha and her friends found a way to make it work,” Spar said.
Ajla Karajko, BC ’14, who heard about the event from fliers posted on Barnard’s campus, also enjoyed Sherry Hour. She said she hopes it will “clarify the situation between Barnard and Columbia” by helping students from the two schools get to know each other personally.
“With the dean’s support, this could be a tradition for years to come,” Kamran Etemad, GS ’14 and social chair of the General Studies Student Council.
After seeing the first Sherry Hour in action, Stedronsky said her next steps will include recruiting more members from each of the undergraduate schools for her committee, diversifying Sherry Hour attendance, and forming a Student Government Association-recognized student group.
While she hopes Sherry Hours will become a monthly tradition in the future, her larger vision for the idea is for the Columbia community to embrace the concept and take ownership of it.
“I hope that everyone at the University wants to throw their own Sherry Hours so that it really becomes a staple to the University, so that it’s not just my Sherry Hour, but everybody’s Sherry Hour,” she said. “I hope that a Sherry Hour becomes a noun here at Columbia University.”
Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article stated that the event was intended for Barnard students to invite non-Barnard students. Students may actually invite any fellow students or professors. Spectator regrets the error.