Campus / News / May 23, 2019

Staff talks Flunk Day safety

A student rides a mechanical shark (a version of a mechanical bull) on this year’s Flunk Day. (Katy Coseglia / TKS)

Coordinator for Student Engagement Andrew Salemi has a binder he carries on Flunk Day; on the first page is an intricately detailed schedule of everything he has to do and at what times. From texting the friars the go-ahead, to meeting a vendor, to ordering pizza for the people working the inflatables, to checking in with the Lincoln impersonator, he has it down to a T.

“It’s a lot of just checking in on things and making sure everything’s where it’s supposed to be and the people are where they’re supposed to be,” he said. “I feel lucky to be able to rely on Campus Safety and our Student Development staff because I don’t have to focus on anything that is going wrong.”

In order to make sure Flunk Day goes smoothly and safely, all offices of Student Development and Campus Safety work on Flunk Day. This includes the Career Center, Counseling Services, Title IX, and more.

Campus Safety and Student Development work together to plan for Flunk Day, ensuring students’ safety and addressing problems as they arise.

A large part of this process includes Student Development staff members pairing up and making rounds on campus. Dean of Students Deb Southern looks forward to this every Flunk Day.

“What we’re trying to do is not police, we’re not knocking on a door… so we can catch someone doing something,” she said. “We want to make sure people know we’re here, that we’re looking out for each other. We’re reinforcing those messages.”

She was disappointed this year that there were not as many people out and about to say “hi” to, due to the inclement weather.

Students can call both Campus Safety or Student Development if they feel there’s a problem on Flunk Day. According to Director of Campus Safety Mark Welker, those types of calls and issues arise mostly during the morning and taper off around 3 or 4 p.m., when he presumes most students are taking a much-needed Flunk Day nap.

Another trend Welker has noticed is that Flunk Day has gotten safer. He partially credits this to the abundance of activities that Student Development plans for the students on campus.

“I think they’ve done a great job of giving them [students] choices at different times and they take advantage of it, and it helps a lot,” Welker said.

For example, the mud pit has not made a full-fledged appearance since 2015.

“I don’t know how it went away, but it just quietly went by the wayside,” he said. “I do think there were injuries associated with that in the past.”

Southern isn’t necessarily sure that there is a trend, but if there is one, it’s mostly due to differences in student classes and their preferences.

According to GPD records, one call was made for an intoxicated student on Flunk Day in 2018 and 2017, and three calls were made for intoxicated students in 2016. 2015 had a call of a student pulling a fire alarm.

However, these records do not include calls made directly to an ambulance service.

Two students were injured on Flunk Day this year and one last year, said Welker. Most of these incidents occurred on the inflatables.

“And those things are fairly safe but … they are like anything else … If you play soccer, there are inherent ways to get injured if you’re playing soccer, and if you get onto one of those inflatables and you’re not careful, you can get injured as well,” he said.

If a student is injured, whichever staff member that gets to the scene first is responsible for acting, Salemi said. After assessing the situation, the staff member will decide whether or not immediate medical attention is needed, and if necessary, will call 911.

According to Southern, a staff member is assigned to the ambulance and hospital. After the student gets back to campus, they are also checked on to make sure that they are having a safe remainder of their Flunk Day.

“It’s about strong people, good procedures, so if something does happen, you can respond to it the best you can,” Southern said.



Erika Riley, Editor-in-Chief
Erika Riley is a junior majoring in creative writing and minoring in journalism. During her sophomore year, she worked as a news editor, and during her freshman year, she worked as a layout editor. She is the winner of the 2017 Ida M. Tarbell Prize for Investigative Reporting and the recipient of First Place Front Page Layout from the Illinois Press Association in 2016. Twitter: @ej_riley

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