UW Graduate School

Food and Drink at the Final Examination

It is common practice in some of our programs for students to bring food and/or drinks to meetings with faculty (e.g. during annual committee meetings, general exam defenses, thesis/dissertation defenses). It is often an implicit expectation rather than an explicit requirement. However, the differential in power between the student and their faculty mentors means that this “voluntary” practice is actually far from voluntary. 

The Graduate School, in partnership with the Graduate and Professional Student Senate and the Faculty Senate, asks all University of Washington faculty to end the practice of students catering required meetings. Allowing students to make the decision about catering these required meetings themselves is a false choice for them: many are concerned that they will be punished or judged harshly if they do not bring food/drink. We remind you that:

  • We have students dealing with food insecurity; buying food for a required meeting is an undue burden (it is an undue burden even if they are not dealing with food insecurity) 
  • The practice creates a lot of anxiety for students
  • Programs at universities across the country have or are adopting such policies to support students