I never thought I would spend so much of my time and money setting up still-life worthy displays of flaky croissants and shiny fruit for people who are judging my science, and that of my colleagues. Yet that’s the expectation: At my university, and many others, students bring food to our thesis committee meetings and defenses, adding to the already sky-high pressure. My first taste of it came 5 years ago, for my first committee meeting. I prepared furiously. I meticulously proofread my written proposal and aligned all the figures. My slides all used the same font. I had even prepared some extra slides to address possible questions my judges might ask. Even so, I was sure the meeting was doomed—because I didn’t know how to make coffee.I believe I've heard of this tradition, but it wasn't a tradition where I went to graduate school and I'm really happy about that. Let's be clear - I'm not talking about providing food for a celebration after passing, we're talking about bringing food to a meeting where people will be judging your work product.
It is absolutely absurd that schools would allow this tradition. Yes, it would be smart not to have irritated committee members by scheduling a long meeting right before lunch (or maybe it is! -ed.) Perhaps it would be even better to provide a warm drink for your committee members! Students shouldn't be pressured into spending their time providing snacks for their committee.
In the discussion on Twitter, it sounds like a number of graduate schools actively or passively discourage this practice. I think that's the right approach. Readers, tell me why I'm wrong.