It was a tradition from Franciscan University’s study abroad program in Austria that led to a night of smoking cigars, talking, and browsing books at BookMarx.
The Oct. 24 cigar and whiskey night was organized by Nick Belt, a Franciscan graduate student and residence director who had experienced the tradition during his time in Austria with the university.
The program, said Belt, was intended to create an atmosphere where undergraduates, graduate students, and professors could meet and talk in a more relaxed manner – and not just enjoy some whiskey, but learn about the craft of the drink.
“I said, when I get back to Steubenville, I’ll have to start it up there,” said Belt.
He said he was looking for a place to share “Whiskey Wednesday” when he mentioned it to Patricia Marx. The newly-remade tradition kicked off on Oct. 24 and is already gearing up for another evening on Nov. 7.
Belt said the first event drew about 20 people, including some professors from Franciscan University, and consisted of open discussion – with whiskey and cigars, of course.
Essentially, it remains an event where students and professors can meet and mingle, but Belt said he’s also interested in starting a lecture tradition as well. He said he wants it short and sweet in the tradition of a Ted Talk, an opportunity for anyone to give a ten-minute lecture on any subject they’re interested in, from skateboarding to coffee to philosophy.
Belt said he also has been inspired by the American Lyceum Movement of the 19th century as he considers how he would like the tradition to develop.
“The vision I have is that it continues to be that foundation for people, to educate and inspire,” he said.
With that vision in mind, said Belt, he’s thinking of changing the name from “Whiskey Wednesday” to “The Lyceum”.
“The form continues to develop,” he said.
All participants must be at least 21. There is a membership fee. Anyone interested is encouraged to contact Belt at 401-714-2474.
The next cigar and whiskey evening will be held Monday, Nov. 7. Just remember one thing for that night of camaraderie and learning: suit jacket required.