As students awoke last Wednesday to jump into the routine of their typical class schedule, they may have been surprised to find a strange email from university administration sitting in their inbox.
Sent by Dean of Students Chris Luekenga at 5:00 a.m., the email read: “Classes are canceled—surprise! It’s ‘Wonderful Wednesday’ and all classes are canceled today! Enjoy a break from classes today to attend the various events on campus that will be happening all day long!”
The email then went on to share CAB’s schedule of campus events for the day—a volleyball tournament, free lunch, video games, free massages, free snacks in Mocha Joe’s and a basketball game.
The idea of “Wonderful Wednesday” was introduced by CAB staff member Alana Weber.
“I heard about the idea from an alum from Milligan College and thought that it was a fun and exciting idea to propose at our CAB staff meeting,” Weber said. “I wanted to do a never-been-done-before event that involved the whole campus and encouraged students to get together for a fun, relaxing day packed full of events.”
According to Weber, the day allowed students to take a mid-week break guilt-free.
“I think that for a lot of students ‘Wonderful Wednesday’ was a much needed day of rest,” she said. “It was also a day for students to catch up on assignments and study for tests. I think it was also beneficial that there were multiple events that targeted different areas of interest.”
Weber explained that CAB hopes to have brightened students’ spirits in the midst of a busy semester.
“My hope is that students enjoyed their Wonderful Wednesday,” said Weber. “There was a lot of hard work put into this event, and it wouldn’t have happened without Olivia Dudley.”
Olivia Dudley, student director of CAB, assisted Weber in bringing the idea to the attention of university administration.
“I pitched the idea alongside Alana Weber, and then I was the lead person for the event,” she said. “The idea was pitched to the CAB staff in the 2019 fall semester, and then Alana Weber and I presented it to Dr. Joel Shrock and Chris Luekenga in November. Administration approved it over Christmas Break, and we started planning the event in January.”
Dudley explained that the intention of pitching “Wonderful Wednesday” was for it to become an annual AU tradition––an annual day of surprise relaxation for students.
“The heart of the event was for it to be a secret,” she said. “The cabbies, administration and faculty knew from the beginning and they were told to keep it a secret.”
According to Dudley, CAB is pleased to have received a positive reaction from the student body.
“I think the event went very well, considering the fact that it was the first year. We had overwhelmingly positive feedback from most of the students and mixed reviews from faculty and staff.”
According to Professor Thomas Tijerina of the department of sociology, social work, criminal justice and family science, the unexpected day off benefitted the student body in many ways.
“I think people in general often feel unheard and unappreciated,” said Tijerina. “That can be a lonely feeling that often lasts a season. How great it is for those who choose to make this their campus home, to not only be collectively recognized with a day of downtime, but to be a bit pampered and catered to just for the sake of rest, relaxation and fun.”
Tijerina explained that because of this, he had no qualms about shifting his teaching schedule.
“It’s not my course schedule––it’s theirs,” he said. “I can figure out how to maneuver things for the students, especially for something that obviously brought a lot of joy and gratitude to campus.”
Many students enjoyed the mental health aspect of “Wonderful Wednesday,” including sophomore psychology major Kathryn Barnes.
“I loved the fact that they were offering a self care day, video games and stuff like that, and I liked that there were events,” she said. “They didn’t just say ‘here’s a free day off’––we had specific things we could do or we could just stay at home and chill.”
Barnes, a commuter, noted that certain students were made aware of the secret class-cancelation before others.
“The adult students received an email the day before, and commuter students like myself should have known when the adult students knew,” said Barnes. “We should have found out at the same time. I feel like if we’re going to continue this we should tell commuter students sooner.”
Barnes explained that she is looking forward to “Wonderful Wednesday” evolving into a campus tradition.
“I thought it was a wonderful time,” she said. “I feel like everyone needs that one day where they can just relax and go with the flow.”