A mingling of texts and treats

By Wesline Simplice
Photo credit: www.christott.com
Professor Benjamin Railton sends out hilarious e-mails inviting English majors & minors to the English Dept. Coffee & Book Extravaganza. These e-mails range from dramatic dialogues, to poetry, and everything in between. There have been two extravaganzas this semester and a third on the way in April. The C&BE is a place where ooey-gooey treats, hot coffee, and a variety of different books and students mingle in the second-floor Miller Hall English Dept. conference room.
The C&BE is not geared only to English majors and minors; it is open to all students. Railton, Assistant Professor of English at Fitchburg State University, says, “Officially the events are for English majors and minors, but I’m not at all averse to other folks coming by. All students are a part of our community. And now that students can also bring books of their own to exchange, the more folks who take part, the better!” 
The coffee book extravaganza did not start off as an extravaganza; at first it was a once-a-year event. “A couple of years ago, I was brainstorming ways to bring folks together in the department more regularly,” says Railton, “and especially to get majors and minors over to Miller’s 2nd floor, talking to each other, seeing faculty, etc, more than just at advising times. I thought that it might work to turn that annual event into a few-times-a-semester one.”
Railton handles the scheduling and planning for the extravaganzas. He also helps to coordinate getting books, coffee, and food. “But the real set-up, running, and take-down is led by one of our department secretaries, Jean Varchol, with the help of work study students,” he says. “And most all faculty get involved, by donating books, by bringing food and/or drinks, by hanging out there to chat with students, and so on.”
Railton says students can expect to find, “books and coffee with all the fixin’s. There are also always tasty treats of assorted varieties, fun decorations to go with the particular holiday or time period in which the event is held, and lots of folks hanging out and chatting.” Students can also feel free to contribute by bringing a few treats of their own or a few books that they are willing to donate.
“Look for the email from me a couple weeks before the event!” says Railton.

To read more about Professor Ben Railton, click here!