Steven Kelts balanced three boxes of pizza in one hand as he carefully removed his GWorld from his wallet and swiped into International House.
Continuing several steps down the hallway, he opened his door and dropped the hot boxes on the kitchen counter. In typical GW fashion, political books and boxed seasons of The West Wing sat beside the TV. Minutes later, the room had filled with students, eating and talking.
But this wasn't your average pizza party.
Kelts, a political science professor who lives in International House, hosts dinner for 10 students in his Constitutional History and Theories course every Monday. The discussions, like his class, revolve around history, politics and the Constitution.
He knows his students' hometowns, which football teams they support and what toppings they like on their pizza. He lives in a residence hall. Bottom line? He's not a regular professor.
"You guys know I'm an über-geek already, so I won't try to hide it," Kelts joked, as everyone in the group flipped through paperback copies of The Federalist Papers.
"Every time I read Federalist 10, I get something new out of it," he said. And then the debate began.
Acting as a moderator, Kelts linked the hour-long discussion of 18th century politics with contemporary political issues, including gay marriage and the impact of lobbyists.
The group calls their meetings "Madison on Mondays," in honor of one of the chief authors of the Federalist Papers, James Madison.
"That's the one thing Americans agree on. We all believe in rights," Kelts said. "Now, who wants ice cream?"
Dessert, four pints of Ben and Jerry's, was the spoils of a bet between the professor and junior Nidhi Srivastava, whose Indianapolis Colts beat Kelts' New England Patriots the day before.
"I think because the atmosphere is casual and not completely academic the students learn a lot more about each other and the professor," Srivastava said. "I wouldn't say that the 'Madison on Mondays' has an incentive, unless you count the ice cream and pizza," she added.
Srivastava said the evening meeting is also used to talk about class assignments and get peer advice.
"Because the people who come to 'Madison on Mondays' are writing research papers for the class, the discussion every Monday helps out with narrowing down topics and hearing ideas from other people," Srivastava said.
Junior Stephen Molldrem called the group simply "a good opportunity to have some intelligent discussion with a group of interesting people with a shared interest in Madison and the Constitution."
"It is a wonderful experience. You get to know your instructor as an individual, and learn more about what professors do outside of a classroom or lecture setting," he added. "It provides a more open and less intimidating environment than the classroom does."
Srivastava and Molldrem both said they were certain that other students would participate in discussions like "Madison on Mondays," if professors were to organize them.
Kelts acknowledged he is "uniquely situated on campus" as one of three Faculty in Residence at GW.
"I hope others use this position to interact with students on a casual, but intellectual level," he said.
He added that students must learn to interact with their mentors and superiors on a social level, comparing the meetings to a cocktail or dinner party with a boss.
"Most people want to know at the end of the day that they've made someone's life better." Living on campus, he said, "I see it every day."