With finals just a couple weeks away, students in the Stony Brook University Scholars program gathered at “Calm-a-Con” on Tuesday for a night of crafts, music and relaxation.
The event was organized by representatives from the University Scholars program in conjunction with its sub-committee, the Social Committee, which is responsible for planning social and recreational events for scholars. It was held in the Center for Leadership and Service and about 130 University Scholars participated, Annalisa Myer, a freshman political science and psychology major, co-chair of the Social Committee and event organizer, said.
Students were randomly assigned a color and number at the entrance. They were then broken up into small groups and asked to report to one of the eleven stations scattered throughout the venue. Each station offered a different activity designed to allow students to relax and have fun.
“Our main goal was to get students to socialize with each other,” Natalie Korba, sophomore sociology and psychology major, co-chair of the Social Committee and event organizer, said. “Our mission with this specific event was to provide students with a relaxed setting where they could get to know other scholars and unwind a bit during a hectic time in the semester.”
With the stress that comes with challenging classes, meeting deadlines or applying for summer jobs and internships, this event aimed to emphasize the importance of good social and mental health.
“I think, especially during finals week, people neglect their mental health and sacrifice everything for good grades,” Kelly Greenwood, freshman health science major and member of the University Scholars outreach program, said. “I totally get it. I do it too, and it’s hard to balance these things sometimes, but I want people to pay more attention to their mental health, and this event will hopefully help people do that.”
Representatives of several clubs on campus were in attendance as well, including volunteers from the Happiness Club, the Health and Wellness Club and more. Most of these clubs and organizations share a common goal of helping Stony Brook students maintain a healthy mental state heading into finals.
“What we’re doing at our station is we’ve put out silly putty and stress balls on the table and we want to talk with people about de-stressing,” Bianca Saldanha, junior sociology and psychology major and Chill peer intern, said. The Chill peer internship is an experiential learning and peer-focused internship supported by professional staff from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). “We are trying to eliminate the stigmas of physical and mental health, and trying to raise awareness about the resources available to students on campus that can help them cope with stress.”
From dance lessons to a station dedicated to creating motivational posters, the event offered a variety of activities for students to participate in. One station showed students how to craft their own stress ball in just 15 minutes.
“I love working with people and doing crafty things, so making stress balls out of balloons and flour is right up my alley,” Erin Bennett, a freshman astronomy major and Social Committee volunteer, said. “So you take a balloon and fill it with some flour, then you tie it off and layer another balloon on top of it. It actually works really well as a stress ball and it’s really easy to make.”
This was the first time that the Scholars program held such an event, and several University Scholars attended without really knowing what it was going to be like.
“I came in not knowing what to expect,” Vincent Femia, a University Scholar and junior applied math and statistics and computer science double major, said. “I heard the name ‘Calm-a-Con’ and thought it sounded like a cool way to relax a bit before finals week.”
Music was playing, people were smiling and it seemed as if the event organizers achieved their main goal: providing participants with a chill environment where they could have some fun with other scholars.
“My expectations were to just have a chill time and relax for a couple hours,” Sophia Ricco, a University Scholar and sophomore journalism and political science double major, said. “It’s a little different than what I had imagined, there’s dancing and a couple other unique stations, but the dancing was pretty fun. It’s a cool way to take a break from studying and spend a couple of hours on a Tuesday night.”