Economics department continues long-standing tradition

Volleyball and economics lovers gathered at the sand volleyball courts the afternoon of April 9 for the biannual Tamalada event co-sponsored by the economics department and the Economics Society.

Tamalada is a long-standing tradition in which economics students and professors mingle with each other in an informal setting with free tamales. This semester, students were also able to enjoy chips, salsa, guacamole and beverages.

John Huston, economics professor and chair of the economics department, has been attending Tamalada since he first came to Trinity in 1983, and the tradition had been going on even before then.

“In the early years, it had a very different flavor to it,” Huston said. “This was when the drinking age was younger, so there were not only tamales but also free beer. We got an interesting collection of students. We got students interested in economics and students interested in beer, although there was some overlap between those groups.”

Tamalada has changed over time, with more recent years being held at the sand volleyball courts so students and professors can mingle over pick-up volleyball.

Nels Christiansen, assistant professor of economics, has been attending Tamalada for the past five years.

“It’s a good community building event,” Christiansen said. “It’s a nice opportunity to get people together who are interested in economics in an informal setting. It’s good for professors to interact with students and also good for students to meet other people they might not normally meet who have the same interests.”

Although many of the students who attend Tamalada are economics majors or minors, the event is open to anyone who is interested in economics.

“I think freshmen tend to talk to freshmen and seniors talk to seniors and Tamalada is a way for students who are brand new to economics to talk to people that are finishing up their majors and are now looking at possible job opportunities or graduate school,” Huston said. “That’s a conversation that doesn’t always take place someplace else.”

Senior Ben Whitehead, economics major and member of the economics society, was in charge of coordinating Tamalada this year.

“We usually try to schedule it around class registration time each semester so students have an opportunity to come and ask questions about classes and get to know some of the professors outside of a classroom setting,” Whitehead said. “I know one of the things we always wonder about when we’re signing up for classes is what the professors are like, and you can get a good sense of that just by hanging out with them for a little bit.”

As for sand volleyball, Christiansen says he enjoys playing, although he is not very good at it.

“I’m terrible actually,” Christiansen said. “The quality  of our playing is what it is, but we have a really good time doing it.”

Huston holds a similar opinion about playing volleyball.

“I do enjoy playing, but I’m horrible at,” Huston said. “My goal each year is to avoid injury.”

Although the number of students who attend Tamalada each semester varies, around 20 students typically show up, along with several economics professors.

“It’s this wonderful tradition that has gone on for so many years,” Huston said. “We’re happy to continue it.”