ASG launches program letting students have dinner with Evanston residents

Olivia Exstrum, Reporter

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Students will soon have a chance to get a taste of the home-cooked food they’ve been missing on campus.

Associated Student Government is launching a new program that invites Northwestern students to have dinner in the homes of Evanston residents. The program, ‘Cats Come to Dinner, will host its first event Oct. 27 from 6-7:30 p.m. The dinners will be held quarterly, and interested students can sign up through the event’s Facebook page.

ASG community relations vice president Kevin Harris played an instrumental role in the formation of ‘Cats Come to Dinner.  The Weinberg sophomore became involved with the organization as a freshman. He said he believes the program will be beneficial not only to students, but also to Evanston residents.

“’Cats Come to Dinner was created to bring Northwestern students and Evanston families together over dinner,” Harris said. “The program is attractive to students because they get a free meal, and hopefully they’ll be encouraged to come back a second time.”

Harris said the program’s main purpose is to create a lasting relationship between students and residents. He said it’s a given that incidents will occur off campus that may strain town-gown relations, but it helps if students have developed rapport with their neighbors.

A program similar to ‘Cats Come to Dinner, called “Evanston Evenings,” was held two years ago by PeaceAble Cities, an Evanston nonprofit. Inspired by the previous program, Harris and other members of ASG discussed it over the summer and began recruiting Evanston families at the beginning of this academic year. They also set up a booth at Evanston Township High School’s parent-teacher conferences and told interested families about the event.

“Hopefully this new program will be a way for NU students and Evanston residents to start a dialogue and get to know each other,” Harris said.

SESP sophomore Chris Harlow, one of the co-planners for ‘Cats Come to Dinner, said his position entails a variety of duties, including marketing, on-campus publicity and the distribution of flyers and other materials.

“I’m who’s responsible when the email blasts come firing,” Harlow said.

Weinberg freshman Sumeer Brar said he believes programs like ‘Cats Come to Dinner are beneficial for town-gown relations.

“If you know someone well, you’re more likely to have a good relationship with them,” Brar said. “Obviously, Northwestern students want to make the school better, and I think that carries over to the town of Evanston as well.”

Twitter: @olivesocean