All-University Thanksgiving serves holiday favorites to Baylor community

The annual All-University Thanksgiving Dinner took place on Fountain Mall, where students gathered to eat, play games and mingle. Brittany Tankersley | Photographer

By Emma Weidmann | Intern

Thursday night, student government and Student Foundation partnered up to host the annual All-University Thanksgiving Dinner on Fountain Mall. Each year, students gather for a free meal with all the Thanksgiving favorites.

As thousands of students congregated with their friends on Fountain Mall — many also bringing their dogs along — students were able to play games like corn hole, take pictures at photo-ops and mingle on the lawn.

President Linda Livingstone and first gent Brad Livingstone also came to Fountain Mall to take part in the tradition and the festivities.

“It’s my favorite event of the year,” Euless senior and student manager at East Village Dining Commons Kaylee Hogness said.

Baylor’s dining services employees provide help to set up, serve food and make sure the event runs smoothly. Hogness said as student manager, she was in charge of refilling some of the food at the event. There were also lines in which students could serve themselves from choices of stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, turkey, ham and more.

“I love to see the whole Baylor family come together just before we go home for a well-deserved break,” Hogness said.

The dinner has been a fixture in student life and one of the most widely attended university events for years, even persevering through COVID-19 as a nearly contactless event.

Last fall, the dinner was split across the dining halls, where students were able to walk through and grab a meal. Unfortunately, faculty and staff missed out for the sake of minimizing risk.

Now, the event is back at full capacity, resembling the festivities of student life before the pandemic. This semester has been a time for many events to return to campus after the challenges of last year.

Many freshmen have never celebrated the holiday away from family. Now, they’ve had the opportunity to create their own traditions.

“This is my first Friendsgiving,” Saint Jacob, Ill., freshman Megan Darby said. “It was so refreshing to get to see the people that I enjoy hanging out with out on Fountain Mall. We got to share a wonderful meal and just talk and spend quality time together, sort of like we are a family. I really appreciated the opportunity to get to see my friends in that light.”

This year’s event is unique from those in the past, as Vertical Ministries moved from its typical Monday night time slot to be able to worship after the dinner.

The dinner is a time for students, faculty and staff to come together as a community and celebrate the holiday. For some, it may be their only opportunity. Many out-of-state students are stuck on campus for the week-long break, unable to eat with their families and as several dining options will be closed in the coming week, this may be one of the last opportunities for a hot meal on campus with friends before the holiday break.