Finals week is a stressful time for many of our students, but on a sunny Friday in May, the community puts studying aside for a few hours of food, games, music, and more at the MIT Day of Play.
Bubbles float through the air past people flipping and bouncing on bungee jumps. Lawn games like oversized Jenga and Connect Four litter the Kresge Oval while students lounge on the grass to soak up the sun while enjoying freshly grilled food and hand-spun cotton candy.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a de-stressing event without furry friends, and the Day of Play provides plenty. A mini petting zoo is set up complete with baby goats, rabbits, chicks, ducklings, and pigs, while Puppy Lab supplies therapy dogs.
According to Jennifer B. Smith, assistant director of the Campus Activities Complex said the MIT Day of Play is held at the end of the semester because “so much of MIT is about hard work with stressful academics and a fast-paced, intense atmosphere. MIT Day of Play is a couple of hours of just fun and a break from this experience to help students recharge and refocus.”
MIT Day of Play was started in 2015, after a particularly stressful year. Smith explained, “It came from the programming board comprised of students in the Office of Multicultural Programs: P.E.A.C.E - Programming for Education and Advocacy of Cross Cultural Exchange. Staff were recruited to brainstorm and help with the logistics. The 2014 - 2015 year was particularly intense, and many students felt discouraged and exhausted. They indicated that they just wanted a time to kick back, enjoy themselves, and play.”
Recent survey data show that 2-8 percent of MIT graduate students and as many as 13 percent of MIT undergraduates do not have enough to eat. And the problem is not unique to MIT: other similar schools report that about 20 percent of their students struggle with food insecurity.
Wellness and Support, Undergraduate, Dean for Student Life, Dining, Graduate