Campus Day’s future up in air


by Sharon Albright

A president-appointed task force is beginning to evaluate how to make the annual Campus Day more cohesive with Simpson’s evolving structure.

According to Ron Warnet, task force chair and professor of chemistry, Campus Day has become disruptive in some ways.

The cause for this disruption, he said, is that this college is a lot different than it was 10 years ago, and nothing like it was in 1889, when Campus Day made its debut at Simpson. “I teach way different than I did 30 years ago,” Warnet said. “Now, we do different things here, which makes it the best it ever has been.”

Warnet sees today’s Simpson as being less isolated than in the past. This increased integration is seen in departments such as management, where speakers are often brought in to aid in learning. Or, the art department is another example, where the students have opportunities to leave campus to visit exhibits in the area. The Simpson Forum has also expanded to bring in an enormous variety of speakers, Warnet said.

“Back then, we came to class, had exams and went home,” Warnet said. “So, it didn’t matter when Campus Day was, because we could easily work around it.”

This is the basis on which the task force was formed. According to Simpson College President R. Kevin LaGree, the task force is challenged to “design Campus Day to become less disruptive, particularly for the academic, aesthetic and intellectual life of the college.”

LaGree has stressed to the committee the importance of the Campus Day as a tradition that helps the campus community to carry out many of the values of the college as a whole.

“Campus Day is one of the few activities at Simpson that promotes a shared sense of community,” said task force member junior Abby Smith. “We need to hold onto this involvement by adapting the day for today’s student population.”

With this in mind, the task force committee is taking a comprehensive look at Campus Day from all constituencies in order to plan how it will be carried out in the coming years.

Smith said that the committee is looking for suggestions from anyone. “I like raking leaves, but maybe others would rather paint houses or pull weeds,” Smith said. “The point is to find a way to serve together as a campus body.”

Town Hall meetings are taking place at student senate, faculty and staff meetings this month. Also, an e-mail survey this past week brought back more than 100 suggestions from around campus.

“I can say that we’re getting very interesting suggestions,” Warnet said. “We’ve gotten some very original ideas, which makes me feel very optimistic.”

Warnet explained that Campus Day has taken on many forms over the years. It has been done on Saturdays before. Warnet said he participated in past years when it was promoted as campus workday in which brick walkways were laid and trees were planted for the beautification of the campus.

“The way we do it now is not the only way to do Campus Day and have it still remain true to its ideal,” Warnet said. We’re want to make Campus Day better than we’ve ever had before-one in which we can all participate, bring the campus together, builds community and honor the new and improved Simpson, without interrupting what we’re trying to do here.”

The committee, composed of faculty Sal Meyers and Warnet, staff Mimi Bartley and Stephanie Krauth and students Smith and junior Cory George and senior Jake Abel, will convene after spring break to put together a plan based on the suggestions they’ve heard. The plan is to be presented to LaGree April 24, the last day of spring classes.