According to Wilson’s archive, “Dean’s Day was first called President’s Day because President Havens, nicknamed ‘Prexy’ by the students, originated the tradition. The first ‘Prexy’s Day’ was Nov. 10, 1950 when President Havens spontaneously decided to give the students the day off. After that day, all unplanned days off during his presidency fell under the ‘Prexy’s Day’ heading. Nowadays, it’s limited to one day off in the spring every year.”
For those who do not know what Dean’s Day is, it is traditionally held on the first nice day of spring. Dean’s Day occurs after the Dean of Academic Affairs rings the bell located on the roof of Edgar Hall, canceling classes for the day and allowing students to enjoy the day outside.
This year, Dean’s Day, now referred to as Gauntlet Day, was adopted into the activities of the last Phoenix Friday that occurred on Friday, Apr. 20. The day consisted of games, food, music and more. Once the bell rang at 4 p.m. for the event to begin, students had the chance to compete with each other for the Dean’s Cup.
Dean Mary Beth Williams, the Dean of Student Development, stated, “The Wilson Gauntlet was an idea that came up when Residence Life asked to co-sponsor the last Phoenix Friday of the year. Dean Heil and I agreed to help co-sponsor by paying for the meal for faculty, staff and students attending the event who are not on the meal plan and buy a trophy (the Deans’ Cup) for the event. Depending on student involvement and success, WCGA, Residential Life, and the deans will determine the future of this event. I hope folks come out and enjoy it!”
While a number of students participated in the event, there are some who are sad to say goodbye to Dean’s Day.
Sierra Hill ‘21 commented, “I know I am a freshman, but I would have loved to experience what Dean’s Day was like. People told me that everybody got together on the green and do homework or just relax because there were no classes. Instead of cancelling this year, they should’ve decided this in the beginning of next school year.”
Freshman may never get to know what Dean’s Day is all about. Juniors and seniors had some strong emotions about the situation.
Taylor Giles ‘19 said, “Cancelling Dean’s Day is like cancelling spring fling or White Dinner, something that students actually look forward to. I was really looking forward to a day off especially since finals are coming up.”
Even though Dean’s Day was cancelled and Phoenix Friday took its place, students still had fun and were able to focus on something other than homework..
Daniel Perry ‘20, president of WCGA, said, “For students that participated in the gauntlet, I think it can give the students a chance to compete together. As a fellow athlete, I learned that you can create a strong bond between your teammates when you come together for a common cause. I think that it will be a more effective event if we start this event at the beginning of the semester to give a chance for the new students to mingle with others. A big event like this one to two weeks into the semester will be very beneficial for incoming freshman.”
While students were hesitant at first with the cancellation of Dean’s Day, students found themselves pleasantly surprised by how the day turned out.
Stef Pleasant ‘21 expressed, “Gauntlet Day was cool. The weather was nice and the food was good. It was funny watching everybody make a fool out of themselves.”