Students get a taste of dining etiquette
About 200 Radford University students were recently drilled on the details of dining etiquette, preparing them for future social scenarios.
The business-attire clad classmates participated in a four-course dining tutorial on Feb. 11 with etiquette aficionado Kathleen Harshberger, director of University Advancement for the College of Visual and Performing Arts and a graduate of the Protocol School of Washington.
The Professional Protocol Dinner, held in the Muse Banquet Hall, is an annual event sponsored by RU Dining Services and Career Services to prepare students for formal outings with potential employers.
President Penelope W. Kyle was in attendance along with Nancy Artis '73, former vice rector of the Board of Visitors and a great benefactor of RU. More than a dozen RU faculty and staff served as table hosts tasked with moderating conversation and providing instruction on social manners.
Before students began the first course of broccoli cheddar soup, which presented a piece of etiquette advice – "sip from the side of the spoon" - President Kyle offered words of professional guidance.
"Success doesn’t just happen. It comes from practice," Kyle said. "You have already found that this is true in your academic and athletic endeavors. Practice is also essential in learning how to navigate professional settings such as the one we are simulating here."
Throughout the evening, Harshberger halted the chatter and directed students' attention to large screens, which featured a slideshow outlining all-things etiquette such as proper dress attire and the correct way to arrange and use dining utensils.
"This is cutting-edge training," said Harshberger, who has instructed the dining tutorial since 2009.
Harshberger combed the room, answering questions and correcting eating habits.
"I see some of you are still holding your forks and knives like daggers," Harshberger said as she peered down at diners' hands.
"It's an insult to the chef to salt and pepper your food before you taste it," she explained.
"And remember, no butter sandwiches," she said, referring to the improper way of buttering a dinner roll.
Students listened and learned throughout the dining experience, scanning neighbors' silverware to ensure they were in line with Harshberger's teachings.
"I've always wanted to learn how to do this," said senior Edna Oppong of Northern Virginia.
Oppong cited seeing similar dining scenarios in movies, and she felt it was an important skill to perfect "in real life."
Freshman psychology major De'Ahzha Williams said she took advantage of the opportunity to meet new people and to learn how the professionals dine.
"This is an experience for me to learn and see what you really go through," Williams said.