University of Maine students found out this week by an email from President Joan Ferrini-Mundy’s office that Maine Day, a UMaine tradition since 1935, has been changed to Maine Week.
The email outlines that this new Maine Week will be the last week of the semester with no time off from classes. This decision comes from a 23-member Maine Day Task Force and was reviewed by the President and the President’s council.
The task force report outlines multiple different alternatives to the current Maine Day. Despite this decision, there are arguments against it listed on the Task Force website. These include that the last week of classes is stressful for students, so not having classes canceled won’t allow them the time to participate in volunteer activities, would probably spread off-campus gatherings and parties to many days and it may negatively impact the spirit of Maine Day.
I agree with all of these points, and I believe that turning Maine Day into Maine Week will not solve the issues that the task force was trying to solve in the first place. Not only that, but students are also already angry with the administration, which could ultimately make gatherings during Maine Week worse.
For example, the public Instagram account @umaineaffirmations posted a photo with a caption against this new decision.
“i will NOT attend classes on maine day<3,” the account said.
People in the comments agreed and the post was shared by many other students.
Turning Maine Day into Maine Week is pretty much the equivalent of eliminating Maine Day altogether because students are still required to go to class the week right before finals. One of the main reasons for this switch was to increase community service among UMaine students, but how will any student find extra time to volunteer in one of the most stressful weeks of the year? Students already find it difficult to find time to study even with a day off but are now faced with a full week of classes, volunteering and trying to fit studying somewhere into that.
The task force knew this.
“Off-campus gathering would be likely to continue, it may grow because students will be angry/defiant, dangers of off-campus gathering will be exacerbated because [the] community will be less well prepared (e.g., fewer emergency services activated) and would cause a negative impact on student morale and UMaine pride,” the task force said in regards to canceling Maine Day.
With the knowledge that students will likely still party, not go to class, not participate in school-organized activities and be angry with administrators. The decision to change Maine Day was still implemented.
Maine Day is a day that UMaine students look forward to all year and turning it into Maine Week is just a way for administration to say they were listening to the students when in reality a majority of students did not want this.
It’s unfortunate to see UMaine advertise the value of student voices when many students showed up last semester to the faculty senate meeting and voiced their concern about canceling or changing Maine Day and were ignored.