On Wednesday, April 30, tomorrow actually was Flunk Day.
Thursday’s carnival featured the mud and foam pits that spring up on campus every year, but branched into weirder attractions, such as an inflatable lasertag tanker and Abraham Lincoln and Elvis impersonators who seemed to know each other, in keeping with this year’s theme, “What the Flunk?”
Flunk Day started a little early this year, as much of the campus began to party about 45 minutes before the return of the Flunk Day friars from what the administration called a “Leadership dinner” at Fun City in Burlington, Iowa the night before. The Knox Student spent the night before Flunk Day on the TKS website and the WikiFire providing by-the-minute coverage of spreading Flunk Day evidence and referring to the S.S. McClure Publications Office as the “Situation Room.”
Senior John Baillie, The Knox Student’s photo editor and undercover Flunk Day reconnaissance friar, almost fell for the administration’s sudden desire to recognize his role as a campus leader for the first time ever.
“They did a very good job convincing us it was a leadership conference thing,” said Baillie: although they confiscated the seniors’ cell phones and cameras, they said it was because the group was going to meet Lucky Boys Confusion.
Still, Baillie said, if the administration wanted to keep Flunk Day a secret, they should have taken their phones sooner.
“I think it was really obvious this year. I think just about everyone saw through leadership recognition night, and in the past, people took friar’s phones when they got on the vans. This time, people had deals with seniors where if they didn’t call by a certain time, it was Flunk Day,” he said.
TKS lost contact with Baillie at 1:01 a.m. The “dinner” became even more suspicious when the seniors were gone late into the night, but Baillie said that was partially due to the collision of a barge into a bridge they had taken to Iowa.
Flunk Day planner junior Pam Schuller did not think the ruse was so obvious. “If you predict Flunk Day two days a week, it’s going to happen sooner or later,” said Schuller. “I just had a talk with a bunch of seniors who said they were still confused even when they saw [Associate Dean of Students] Debbie Southern on a Gator.”
Whether or not it was surprising, Flunk Day was a success at least in terms of safety.
Director of Campus Safety John Schlaf estimated that this year’s Flunk Day was the first in ten years in which no ambulances were called to the campus. There was one minor injury, he said, but it was due to an equipment malfunction in the Human Bowling game and was not the injured student’s fault.
“I think everyone, from initial planning to student conduct, was better,” said Schlaf.
Although it was Coordinator of Student Life Jenn Snider’s first year planning Flunk Day, she got plenty of experience planning a similar event called Finals Blowout for four years at Lynchburg College as a student. She said planning went much more smoothly at Knox with a crew of five students helping her.
“I think it went really well. I thought it would be a lot louder,” said Snider.
Though Snider and the Flunk Day planners hit a few snags, such as the Flunk Day favors being too big to fit in student mailboxes, Snider felt the well-organized setups of the games and attractions and the lack of hospital visits made up for it.
As for the rest of the campus, even Flunk Day cannot please everyone.
“Overall, I think it was good, but I thought that last year was better,” said junior Daniel Guzman. Guzman appreciated that there were two mechanical bulls this year, reducing lines, but felt that a lot of this year’s Flunk Day attractions were the same old thing from years past. He also faced the moral quandary many of us confront on Flunk Day: while an exotic animal petting zoo sounds cool, many students have found tiger cubs in cages in Galesburg to be a Flunk Day downer.
Sophomore Jenna Henning was more enthusiastic, rating Flunk Day 2008 higher than 2007.
“I think the activities were more fun in the end, it just seemed to go smoother,” she said. “I think it was too late in the season my freshman year.”
This year’s Flunk Day also differed from last year’s in terms of sustainability. In keeping with Knox’s new commitment to greening the campus, the Flunk Day planners tried to make the event a bit more environmentally friendly with mixed success. Though the Flunk Day favors were made from recycled materials, many of them quickly became litter, and recyclable plates were used for lunch, but not for dinner.
“I appreciated the effort that was made, I just felt like there were so many possibilities that could make Flunk Day greener that weren’t accessed,” said sustainability committee chair senior Angie Martin.
Students who were not as happy as they could have been with Flunk Day 2008 might get the chance to improve Flunk Day 2009. Though Snider says she will not begin planning next year’s Flunk Day at least until she finishes the paperwork from this one, both Snider and Schuller said they would be looking for more student input into next year’s festivities.
“I think the amount of activities we had was brilliant, we had so much to do, but I think we’d get more of what were the big hits,” said Schuller.