ORONO, Maine — The future of Maine Day at the University of Maine has been decided: The historically volunteer-centered holiday will be "transformed" into Maine Day Week.
The 23-member Maine Day Task Force appointed this past fall semester to decide the fate of Maine Day issued a 12-page report on Dec. 14 regarding Maine Day's status, a news release from UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy said Tuesday.
The task force was created by the UMaine Faculty Senate after communitywide safety concerns were raised this past fall regarding Maine Day. The task force consists of student, faculty, staff, alumni, and Orono community representation, and is chaired by Professor Jeffrey Hecker, the release said.
The UMaine website describes Maine Day as a volunteer-centered holiday that traditionally takes place on the last Wednesday of the spring semester.
Maine Day traditions include a campus-wide barbecue, games, and a parade among community service efforts, and most classes are not held, the UMaine website described.
However, the raised concerns stemmed from student parties on Maine Day and activities from the past year in particular.
"The prospect of something terrible happening at these parties is still very alarming to me," Ferrini-Mundy said in November.
In November, Ferrini-Mundy and Dean of Students Robert Dana cited videos and pictures that had circulated of alcohol and drug overdoses, with students being sent to the hospital and general dangers and violent incidents in connection with Maine Day.
Students, however, claimed they felt blindsided after the Faculty Senate met over the summer about Maine Day's fate without involving students.
"This is a big decision to make without the students even knowing about it," UMaine student Peter Alexander said in November.
Students did, however, get to share their voices at a Faculty Senate meeting held in November regarding the issue.
Still, the safety concerns ultimately led to the appointment of the task force to decide whether or not classes should be reinstated for Maine Day 2023.
The Dec. 14 report highlighted four alternatives to Maine Day: eliminate Maine Day, move Maine Day to an earlier date in the academic year, revamp and rebrand Maine Day to Maine Day Week, or maintain traditional Maine Day with enhancements.
"The President’s Cabinet and I have reviewed the report that included four alternatives for Maine Day," Ferrini-Mundy said in Tuesday's release. "We have decided that, in lieu of one day of focused activities, 'Maine Day' 2023 will be a weeklong observance at the end of the spring semester at UMaine and the University of Maine at Machias that will involve the revamping and rebranding of the tradition."
Ferrini-Mundy said this semester, Maine Day Week will be held from April 24 to April 28, and classes will be held every day of that week, including the originally planned Maine Day on Wednesday, April 26.
"This alternative, which includes no class cancellations and focuses on historic Maine Day goals—from campus clean-up to community building, philanthropy and celebration—also had clear consensus among task force members," Ferrini-Mundy added.
There will also be increased membership on a standing committee that will plan Maine Day Week 2023, as well as pursue strategies for "expanding and enhancing this week of service and engagement," according to the release, which was recommended by the task force in the report.
Lisa Morin will lead the Maine Day Week 2023 Committee and will be joined by Lauri Sidelko, Ben Evans, and students, faculty, town officials and staff, who are set to be appointed in coming weeks, Ferrini-Mundy said.
Ferrini-Mundy said she will continue to share updates on the "reenvisioned approach" for Maine Day Week as they become available.
You can read the full report here.