By Ethan Goldstein, CCNCorrespondent
Spree Day, as we know it, is no more.
One of Clark’s oldest traditions met its sudden demise at a Student Council meeting on Wednesday, January 23 with an announcement from Director of Student Leadership and Programming Michael McKenna, who has instead decided to replace it with a weekend-long festival (“Freudstock”) without consulting the vast majority of the student body. Indeed, despite announcing this in front of Student Council, he asked no feedback from them, instead coming before the Council to ask for $15,000 to increase the budget for the comedian who will become the focal point of the weekend’s Saturday activities.
While McKenna made it clear that not all of the activities are set in stone, he was clear that the tradition of Tuesday Spree Days was permanently over in favor of this currently unnamed weekend (which some Student Council members have taken to calling “Spree Weekend”). The weekend will be three days long and incorporate the International Gala, another Clark tradition. The night of Thursday, April 4, will feature a “drive-in movie” to begin the festivities. On Friday, April 5, classes will be canceled in preparation for Gala, which will be held in the Dolan Field House after a pre-Gala dinner in Higgins open to all on the meal plan. Saturday, April 6 will be the “Spree Day” of the weekend, featuring brunch outside Blackstone Hall and the standard assortment of Spree Day activities at Dolan. That night will feature a comedian, currently not chosen due to the aforementioned budgetary concerns. Sunday will feature only one activity, a themed brunch, to conclude the activities.
Under much scrutiny from the Council, McKenna laid out his reasons for the change. Primarily, he explained, the reasons for changing Spree Day have been its increasingly negative reception over the past few years. Spree Day has become known as a day for non-stop drunkenness, and McKenna believes that the new condensed schedule will force students to refrain from such activities by making the day off the lead up to International Gala, which for years has been the single largest student-run activity at Clark, and is now in its eleventh year. McKenna explained that the E-board of the Intentional Students Association approved the idea in advance in a private meeting that left the majority of ISA members unaware – many Council members raised concerns that the hundreds of students who work on Gala may be reluctant to miss their day off from class working on the event.
Many names were suggested for the weekend, though none were decided on, and McKenna listed off more than a dozen comedians who may serve as the guest depending on whether Student Council approves the additional budget for a comedian.
Criticism came not just from those worried about ISA members, but from those worried for tradition. Rebecca Liebman served as the main source of opposition for the weekend, pointing out that her mother and great-aunt, both Clarkies, had fond memories of Spree Day. With many in agreement, she opined that vastly altering it would eliminate one of Clark’s most beloved traditions, one that is far older than Gala. McKenna countered by pointing out that Spree Day has become stale, and that for the past few years he has tried to add new events and activities to it to little avail. Instead, Spree Day has gotten him numerous complaints due to the wildness of the festivities – while Gala itself will be moved to the Dolan Field House for acoustic reasons, the carnival element of Spree Day is moving in response to the idea to spread the activities out to lower the chaos.
But while many agreed that this new idea had the potential to simultaneously ruin a tradition and backfire by creating an uncontrollable neighborhood-wide three-day party, McKenna remained adamant about the new format, even while admitting that the specifics were only tentative plans. Student Council Vice President Rory Jones, aware of the plans in advance, advocated giving the $15,000 on the grounds that since the change could not be stopped, the least Student Council could do was make it as good as it could be.
It remains to be seen how the greater student body will feel about this change. With Student Council members like Liebman already on edge, it is also questionable whether McKenna will be able to get any additional funding for the new Spree Day, or whether the harsh reaction at the meeting predicates a large-scale outcry.