Student Union cafeteria visitors had a simpler dining experience Feb. 9 when Assistant Academic Affairs Vice President Paul Newman bused tables.
Newman cleared plates and silverware as part of a money-raising initiative for AshaVida, a group focused on global health care.
AshaVida members were raising money to send medical supplies to Central America, according to a campuswide email from Newman.
AshaVida president Mithali Mehta said from Jan. 26 to 30, club members asked for donations in jars labeled with participants’ names.
Each participant came with a given challenge that they would complete if their jar had the most money, Mehta said.
Challenges included bringing pets to class, dressing in costume and pouring ice water over themselves in the snow, Mehta said.
Newman participated in a challenge with professors Stephanie Stilling, Jill Henning and Luis Bonachea.
Professors Kristen Majocha, Jeffrey Webb and Kim Douglas also participated, along with the six AshaVida officers, according to Mehta.
Newman’s jar won with $21, so he completed his table-busing challenge, Mehta said. He carried used dishes from 4:30 to 6 p.m. wearing a white Sodexo apron.
“I had fun,” Newman said. “There were very few students who took their own plates.”
Jars for tips were distributed around the cafeteria to further raise money for AshaVida during Newman’s busing. Mehta said $132 was raised.
Newman said, in addition to tips, Sodexo employees donated cafeteria entry fees that were paid in cash while Newman was working.
Newman said he joked around with students and criticized them for not finishing their food.
He said there were a lot of uneaten peas.
Freshman Wilder Harrison-O’Neill described having Newman take his dishes as a pleasure.
“I’ve been waiting my entire life for this,” he said.
Harrison-O’Neill said he donated $1.50 to Newman’s jar, and that Newman’s performance was fully filling his expectations.
Newman said that, although he had fun, busing was tiring.
“(It was) harder than my job (now),” he said. “I admire people who do hard work.”
However, Newman said he was not unaccustomed to the work.
Newman said he cleared tables every Lenten season for 10 years at St. Andrew’s Church near Ferndale during their Friday fish fry events.
He also made and delivered pizzas as a teenager and worked in his college’s cafeteria dishroom.
Newman said he did the challenge willingly because it was for a good cause.
Even though their jars did not win, Mehta said Stilling and Henning still completed their challenge of dressing as a hillbilly and elf.
Mehta said she was grateful to the participants.
“I truly hope that this event (allowed) people to learn more about AshaVida and our mission,” she said.