This past Monday, the Knox campus experienced one of the most anticipated and dreaded days of the year — Flunk Day. For many students, this chance to skip class, relax outside with their friends, and engage in “party behavior” was a welcomed break from the tense campus environment. For others, the image of muddy, painted, and stumbling classmates was too much to handle. For organizers of the event, it was a relief that it went off mostly without a hitch.
Flunk Day — the day when classes are canceled and the campus at large turns into a fair equipped with snow cones, trampolines, and inflatable games — is a tradition at Knox. However, over the past few years, a growing concern about alcohol consumption and sexual assaults committed on that day has prompted administrators to question its necessity. During an interview with now on-leave Dean of Students Xavier Romano conducted during winter term, Romano (who was once dubbed the “Dean of Flunk”) mentioned that he didn’t know if he wanted Flunk Day to happen, considering students’ misbehavior this past year. This statement was not printed in the article.
Parties get broken up nearly ever weekend and minors with alcohol are referred to the Office of Student Development. In January, the Galesburg Police found minors drinking at a fraternity party. According to Romano, “100 percent” of the sexual assault cases he dealt with involved alcohol. Then, several individuals and groups rallied around sexual assault victims, creating divides between several groups on campus and deepening the gap between Greeks and non-Greeks.
Was Romano right in criticizing Flunk Day, a day intertwined with alcohol for many students, because of the problems we’ve been having this year?
We here at TKS argue that Flunk Day was exactly what this campus needed: a day to chill out and love everybody. While individual experiences of Flunk Day vary significantly, the overall tone of campus is much more relaxed on that day than any other (besides, perhaps, the day after finals in June). For 24 hours, students can forget their classroom and club responsibilities. They can sit in the sun or in the shade and enjoy the festivities, which include good music, good food, and a variety of different activities.
And for several students, the day also includes alcohol. We drink it, in most cases responsibly, and become friends with everybody (our suitemates, our acquaintances, our enemies, our professors, our friends). We loosen up and realize our problems within the Knox bubble aren’t worth getting so worked up about. We remember that we’re all students and colleagues at the same school and once we leave, we’ll have this experience in common.
Sure, alcohol causes problems for some on Flunk Day. But Flunk Day isn’t about drinking. It’s about communing as a campus and celebrating the work we do here every year. It’s about enjoying ourselves after two intense terms of academics. It’s about deflating the heightened tensions that separate one person from the next.
Is Flunk Day still necessary? Yes, it absolutely is, especially now when so much seems to trouble us. Although two days after Flunk Day occurred is still too early to assess whether there will be any sort of permanent environmental change, for that day at least we were all together, on the same page, Flunking.
Hopefully, we can carry this sentiment into the final weeks of the school year because really, supporting each other is what counts.