Story by Zachary Avery, News Editor
Photographs courtesy of Zachary Avery
After a surprise cancellation last spring, the Aquinas Chemistry Society resumed its 30-odd year tradition of the Poje Banquet on April 11. This event marks the end year celebration of science and math students at Aquinas and their accomplishments throughout the past term.
The banquet is honorifically named after John Poje, a highly revered chemistry professor who worked at Aquinas from 1950 through 1986. While a typical year would include an off-campus dinner with students and staff, this year’s festivities were held entirely online.
Aquinas Chemistry Society president Gabby Brandonisio hosted the event, and there were 40 individuals in attendance, consisting of a variety of students and faculty members.
The Poje Banquet began with keynote speaker Elaine Isely, Director of Water Programs at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. Isely’s presentation highlighted the state of environmental legislation throughout each region impacted by the Great Lakes water basin.
“Everything we do on land affects our water,” Isely said. “As an action council, we want people to understand that connection.”
Isely articulated how discrepancies in environmental legislation throughout the Great Lakes water basin creates an unstable precedent in how we define our environmental issues around Michigan. While vital rivers throughout Michigan, such as Rogue and Flat, are protected under the Michigan Natural Rivers Act, the state authority over certain beaches around the Great Lakes is constantly being questioned by civil lawsuits. The beaches of Lake Michigan are technically public to everyone, but when different U.S. states define the edge of the high-water line versus the point of someone’s actual private property completely differently and in vague terms, the confusion grows.
The Poje Banquet 2021 continued with end-of-the-year reports from each of the STEM clubs around campus, and some RSOs took the chance to officially announce their ’21-’22 executive board members.
“The Poje Banquet is a way to reinforce the bonds between departments in the natural sciences and between individual people,” Jensen said. “It’s an opportunity for students and faculty to see and talk to each other as people, not just professors and students. I think it’s a really important tradition, because we don’t have anything else like that on campus.”
As the Zoom call ended, faculty members gave praise for each of the many awarded seniors. The Poje Banquet 2021 has shown that some Aquinas traditions will always prevail, even virtually.