Next steps in our discussions about Maine Day 2023
Dear University of Maine students, faculty and staff,
Maine Day is a long-held University of Maine tradition, established in 1935 as a day for the students, faculty, staff and alumni to participate in volunteer activities and come together to engage in community-building, campus-based activities. UMaine community members annually have looked forward to a day in the spring semester to raise awareness of and recommit to the importance of community service, and join in university events that have become their own traditions, such as the campuswide barbeque and oozeball tournament, and, most recently, the meal packout.
In recent years, the service-focused community spirit and values at the heart of Maine Day have eroded. More community members have come to see the largely class-free day as a time of informal celebration, particularly off campus. There has been a steady decrease in the number of volunteers for community service on that day and an increasing incidence of activities have raised serious health and public safety concerns for our community.
Community members on campus and in Orono have asked that UMaine take steps to mitigate the dangerous behavior and threat to public safety that have been increasing in severity on Maine Day. I have deep concerns about these off-campus gatherings of thousands of students engaged in problematic behaviors that lead to hospital transports, conduct code violations and arrests.
I am charging an advisory task force, chaired by Jeffrey Hecker, professor and director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology, to meet in the next four weeks to make recommendations to me and the Cabinet about how to increase student volunteerism and decrease safety concerns on Maine Day. Those recommendations, which will be informed by data and community input, will help us make decisions about Maine Day 2023 by the start of the spring semester.
I appreciate all the students who took the time to share their perspectives and demonstrate their support, especially related to the importance of engagement in philanthropy and community service. Your passion for and leadership in this good work are recognized and appreciated.
We have made no decision on Maine Day 2023. My steadfast concern is that all we do — in and out of the classroom — is focused on the success, safety and well-being of community members.
Many students who attended Wednesday’s Faculty Senate meeting have emailed me directly with their requests to serve on the task force. We will quickly finalize the task force membership with the addition of faculty, student and alumni representatives.
We encourage everyone to send their suggestions for ways to reenvision Maine Day by emailing email@example.com.