The notorious safety e-mail is widely accepted as the unofficial start of the Flunk Day season on Knox College. This year’s incarnation came out just a few days ago on April 13. But, unlike previous years, this is not the first official mention sent to students on the subject of Flunk Day.
According to an e-mail sent on March 24 to the senior class mailing list, this year’s friars, a mysterious group comprised of seniors tasked with the initiation of Flunk Day celebrations, would be selected from the top 20 still standing after an all-senior class game of ‘assassins.’
Around 65 students signed up, but less than a week later, on March 30, another e-mail was sent to the participants informing them that the game had been canceled due to safety concerns, much to the surprise of many. Several questions were raised. Had there ever really been a game planned, or was this just a part of an elaborate hoax? Just who were the Flunk Day Friars?
“My understanding is that the friars are chosen to be a broad sampling from across campus, all different types of leaders,” said Erica Jaffe ’08, “people who are leaders in the classroom, on the sports field, in Greek life and in student government, in any which way, just to make sure that the entire campus participates in Flunk Day, because it is for the entire campus.”
“The Friars are seniors, and as far as I know that’s always been the case,” said Pamela Schuller, class of 2009 and notorious Flunk Day ‘09 planner. “There is a new way and new criteria for picking the Friars every year.”
Schuller was practically stalked by the campus at large during the ’09 season, as the relevant Wikifire page can attest, but many recall that she was also a secret Flunk Day planner the year before.
“My first year planning was my junior year and [the Friars] became the senior leaders on campus,” Schuller said.“There was an email sent out like an invitation, inviting them to what would be an annual senior leader [event]… we picked them without people knowing that’s how we were doing it.”
Jaffe was one of those selected leaders.
“What I remember is that we were e-mailed…. I don’t remember the content of the e-mail, but I got an email saying something akin to ‘are you available this night for an outing for senior leaders,’” Jaffe said. “And that was it. There was no build up or anything like that.”
After an evening of entertainment and fine dining, the assembled seniors were taken to a hotel suite on a pretense.
“They were told that they were going to be meeting a band that was going to be playing at Knox the next day that a lot of people were into. We had actually booked that band for Flunk Day, but nobody knew that,” Schuller said. “So we were going to be doing a meet and greet and I think the story was that they didn’t want pictures being taken, so cell phones were taken away, because cell phones have cameras, on the bus to the hotel suite. When they walked into the suite, we had it decorated and there were Friars and there were shakers and stuff for them, and it was myself and one of the other planners screaming, ‘You’re the Friars!’”
What does it mean to be a Friar? To some, it’s a position of honor and reverence. Others, an excuse to raise an ungodly racket. And for most, it’s a combination of the two.
“In my opinion, [the point of being a Friar is] to get the campus awake and excited,” Schuller said. “We don’t have a loudspeaker system on campus – which would be hilarious – to wake up campus, so the Friars wake everyone up. That’s their purpose, to be loud and wake everyone up… It’s an honor to be the ones to start off Flunk Day.”
So who will the Flunk Day Friars be this year? For the moment, it is anyone’s guess, and theories will abound until the day itself comes. But above all, just remember…
“Flunk Day is tomorrow!” Jaffe said.