In chow hall, a tradition of students guarding their turf

Students dine at the “football table” in the chow hall in the Wise Center. A number of tables are subject to unwritten rules about who eats where – mostly without conflict.

Students dine at the “football table” in the chow hall in the Wise Center. A number of tables are subject to unwritten rules about who eats where – mostly without conflict.

It is not uncommon for friends to share meals together, particularly when they are on-campus students. However, when certain factions claim their table, outsiders can be intimidated while navigating the unwritten seating chart.

The Wise Campus Center Dining Hall at Norwich University maintains an uncharted map of its own that students learn by watching.

Students in the dining hall have a tendency to sit at the exact same tables for every meal. Certain athletic teams, especially, are known for “claiming” their own tables.

“I’m a football player and I sit at the first long table in front of the kitchen doors with the rest of the football players,” said Peter Arico, a 19 year-old, sophomore, criminal justice major from Washingtonville, N.Y. “It is mostly just football players who sit with us.”

Arico continued to say that when people who are not a part of the NU football team sit with them at their table, the football team generally doesn’t care.

“It rarely happens though,” said Arico. “Only a few non-football players sit with us the same amount of times as everyone else on the team.”

If someone sits at the table that the football team does not like, they just sit far away from them. Peter explained that “they will eventually leave”.

“I also sit at the football table,” said Tim Harrington, 20, a sophomore communications major from Weymouth Mass. “I do not know how this table became the football table, but it’s nice to know I can always go to chow hall and sit with my teammates.”

Harrington said they do not usually say anything to the random people that sit at the table with them. He says it would be “rude” for us to kick someone out of their seat, even if we do not want them there.

“We are, more or less, pretty lenient with the rule (about) people sitting with us, and don’t really enforce it,” Harrington said. “Most of the time kids we are friends with that don’t play football sit with us through all meals of the day without anyone saying anything.”

“The most that will happen is football players asking each other why some people are at our table. We never ask them to leave though,” Harrington said. He explained how everyone on the team is understanding if there are not a lot of tables open and someone needs a place to sit.

Since most of the football players, along with other teams and clubs, sit at the same tables every day, most people know whose table is whose. But some clubs and sports teams are not so nice when it comes to their table.

“I know that some special units will ask people to leave their table and move their stuff,” Harrington said. “But most of the time it is not that big of a deal.”

“During chow I sit on the far right side with the (Women’s) Rugby team when entering by the fish bowl entrance,” said Shanoui Gunn, 21, a senior criminal justice major from Newark, N.J. “I sit there almost every day at chow with my teammates.”

Gunn said that the team does not like when random people sit with them, but will not make them leave. Just like the football team, the rugby players also understand that it is not officially their table.

“We obviously do not kick out friends who are not on the team off the table, and our teammates’ girlfriends and boyfriends,” Gunn said.

However, even though the team will not force someone to leave the usual team table. Gunn said, the respect the students have for the players compels them to move on their own. “Most of the time when someone non-rugby is sitting at the table and we get there, they will get up and move out of respect, or they feel uncomfortable.”

Club hockey, similar to the rugby and football teams, do not really care if non-teammates sit at their table, according to one team member.

“I play club hockey and when our team is in chow, we sit in a booth near the window overlooking the campus green,” said Conor Murphy, 21, a junior criminal justice major from Westwood, Mass..

However, there is usually a common bond among those who do sit with the team. “The non-hockey players that sit with us are close friends of teammates,” Murphy said.

Sometimes, Murphy said, that bond is athleticism. “We also sit with the wrestlers.”

He says that when there are people at their table they will just sit with the wrestling team, or at the end of the table. “We do not make a big deal out of people sitting at our tables.”

“We don’t even have a set table in the chow hall,” said Mike Lavery, 20, a sophomore environmental science major from Concord, NH. “We just find the biggest space and sit there as a team.”

Lavery, a men’s Lacrosse team member, explained that there is no need to waste time trying to maintain a team “table” in the dining hall. “I see my teammates everyday,” he said. “If we have to split up for a meal, it is not the end of the world.”

“The only time we will ever maybe ask someone to move is if we are having a team dinner the night before a game, or breakfast the day of a game,” Lavery said, in regards to the football team not allowing outsiders in on a team meal. “Most people understand that we just want to eat as a team before a game.”

Tables in chow hall are not necessarily owned by any one group of students, but respect for the teams and groups on campus allows them to claim their spots.


  1. Susan Brosnahan says:

    Nice article! Well done!

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