I can always tell when the semester is coming to a close — the call for volunteers for the Midnight Munch emanates †from the Dean of Students Office at Wabash. Faculty and staff from all over campus gather in the Great Hall of the Sparks Center to feed up the students pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, and that Hoosier staple of biscuits and gravy. The meal provides a nice late night study break, but it has always been more than that.

My first experience with the Midnight Munch came about 3-1/2 years ago when Edie Simms, Associate Dean of Students at the time, was putting the event together. I learned from her†that while the food brought the students out for the evening, the chance to talk and take a short break from studying†was even more important. The young men would smile as you handed them a plate of food, enjoying the event, the atmosphere, and the fellowship with everyone involved.

Mike Raters ’85 heads up the Munch now in his role as the Associate Dean. When that email asking for help comes, I jump at the chance to spend another night behind the serving line.

Wonder if it really is fun to work the Munch? You can start by checking out some of the photos Chip Timmons posted in the Admissions blog, The Scarlet Banter. Or you need look no further than last night at the griddle where President Pat and Chris White prepared the first batch†of pancakes. Chris kept the proud tradition of "practically perfect pancakes" alive as silver dollar-sized flapjacks stacked up in the serving trays, awaiting the arrival of the students. As the evening progressed, the challenges began. Raters and Pat White started making various designs with the batter, including one pizza-sized pancake.

Near the end of the evening the two temporary fry cooks began molding the batter into a new shape — a whale. Raters carefully sculpted the mouth and and eye while President White formed the rest of the body and tail. A few minutes into the project came the big test. Would it stay together when it was flipped over on the grill?

Not a problem for these two Iron Chefs! Moments later one giant whale pancake was ready to be devoured. Matvey Toropov ’09 won the honors, eventually finding a plate big enough to hold the giant creation. Twenty minutes later Toropov left to head back to the books after enjoying his special meal.

It always seem like such a simple thing, just standing in line and tossing some eggs onto a plate. But every year I’m reminded it’s not about the food. As the spring 2007 Munch came near an end, one student came back to the head of the line. Chemistry professor Lon Porter asked him if he was back for a second round.

"No," the student replied. "I wanted to thank each of you for coming out to do this. I’ve had so much fun tonight, now I feel like I can go back to my room and finish my review work for my final exams."

Photos – (top left) Another "practically perfect pancake" comes off the griddle, courtesy of Chris White.

(Middle right) President Pat White and whale-cake.

(Bottom right) Toropov chats with Athletic Trainer Mark Colston after finishing his pancake.