Pacer Days Provides Students with Mental Health Breaks

November 5, 2021

Thanks to the generous support of the Believe in Peace Strategic Plan, campus leaders had the resources to support campus during one of the most challenging academic years in history. Funds donated to the Believe in Peace Strategic Plan funded the vital work of the Commitment to Community Task Force and other key initiatives around the University’s core values. Through this fund, we were able to endure what we believed as a campus.

At the heart of the Believe in Peace Strategic Plan are the University’s core values: Focus on Students; Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect; Commitment to Community, Creativity, and Innovation, and Excellence with Integrity. 

Two of these values, Commitment to Community and Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect, are best felt when the WPU campus community is present and in person on campus. With the remaining impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was imperative that WPU focus on, and reimagine, these two university core values during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Enter the Commitment to Community (C2C) Task Force. Made up of campus leaders from academics, student life, athletics, alumni relations, and student government, this group was charged with bringing these two values of the institution to life. The C2C Task Force met regularly providing leadership, guidance, programming, and support for the entire campus around these two values. Bobbie Cole, Associate Vice President for Student Life and Housing led the task force. 

These initiatives were critical in ensuring that all of our campus community members felt valued, included, engaged, and supported through the pandemic and a very challenging and sometimes polarizing political season,” Cole said. “With the transition to virtual and hybrid learning and the isolation being felt amongst the community, it was important that we as a campus community focused on community and inclusion in an intentional way.” 

When the University decided to adjust the academic calendar to limit the spread of COVID-19 on campus, students didn’t get the traditional fall and spring breaks. The C2C Task Force worked with several other departments across campus, to create Pacer Days, one day each semester with no classes to provide students a much-needed mental health break and fun activities to help create community. 

Each Pacer Day included these three opportunities: to move and be active, to dialogue and share with others, and to enjoy delicious food. The Fall Pacer Day had a special emphasis on First-Year Students and included the 1857 Games, a competition between WPU’s First-Year Seminar classes. While Spring Pacer Day helped prepare seniors for their final push to graduation. Other Pacer Day activities included yoga classes, intramural games, a well-being circle, self-care baskets, a gratitude workshop, a house plant care class, and a dessert food truck rodeo. All at no cost to students.  

“In the midst of the pandemic, we were losing touch and connection with our friends and classmates during the semester,” said Samara Demary ’22, C2C Task Force Student Representative and 2021 Student Government President. “Pacer Days provided much-needed rest and fun! The activities on campus on our day off helped bring us together to build community.” 

About 200 students participated in each Pacer Day.