Every institution has unique traditions that students have been celebrating for decades.  The total culmination of these traditions creates distinctive campus cultures.  Often, students look forward to these events months in advance with high anticipation.  Colorado School of Mines is no exception. 

This upcoming weekend is E-Days, short for Engineering Days, which is essentially a huge celebration for all of our students.  (See more about E-Days here: http://minesactivitiescouncil.com/Mines_Activities_Council/E-Days.html)  There are typical things students enjoy like concerts, comedians, and a carnival.  But there are also very engineering specific events.  They start off with the Ore Cart Pull, by literally pulling an ore cart for six miles to the capital where the Major officially declares it is E-Days.  Throughout the weekend students have the opportunity to design and build trebuchets, and cardboard boats to float down the creek adjacent to campus.  There are even fireworks.  Needless to say, my campus is a buzz with excitement as E-Days quickly approaches. 

As a professional staff member, getting ready to experience this for the first time, I also have a lot of emotions going into the next few days.    
Not only are these events exciting for students, but it’s exciting for me to witness the energy in my students’ eyes, talk, and walk as they gear up for E-Days.  There’s just a different energy on campus.  I’m sure you can relate about seeing your students excitement during whichever event is unique to your institution.  This break, if only for three short days, seems to be the motivator my students need at this point in the year.

Not only is it exciting to see the newfound energy in my students, but these events are also fun for me.  How cool is it to witness trebuchets launch a gallon of water to a castle?  Or see cardboard boats floating down a river?  Super cool.  I am glad to support my students and be present during the weekend, so I’ll be volunteering at many of these events.  But I’ll also be participating in the Cardboard Race with my supervisor, a staff member from Outdoor Recreation Center, and our Associate Dean of Students.  (Stacked!)  We have yet to start building our boat, so this shall be interesting.  If our boat fails, we will fall into the creek that is essentially melted snow runoff.  It’s going to be epically freezing.

I enjoy my job and what I do for many reasons.  One of them is the energy on college campuses.  The energy exuded during these campus traditions is something that I got excited about when I was an undergraduate student directly participating in the events.  It continued when I was in graduate school, both enjoying experiences as a student, as well as advising the coordination of a few of them.  As a professional staff member, I still get excited about these events, even though my role has shifted significantly from when I first fell in love with the importance of traditions on college campuses for students. 

Lastly, I’m also on-duty.  I plan to be having a lot of conversations about making good life choices during this weekend long celebration.

Katie Schmalzel

Student Affairs - the First Years

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