Even though Knox College students have spent the spring term scattered across the world because of the COVID-19 pandemic, nothing could stop Union Board from preserving a long-standing Knox tradition and going all-out for a virtual Flunk Week 2020.
Flunk Day happens every spring. In a typical year, the exact date of Flunk Day is a closely guarded secret and a topic of much speculation. The morning of Flunk Day, classes are cancelled, bouncy-houses inflated, and sweet treats are distributed throughout campus. An Abraham Lincoln impersonator makes an appearance, and a headlining musical artist or comedian often performs to wrap up the day.
No matter what, Flunk Day celebrates the Knox community with games, activities, and all-around togetherness. That was still true this year, even though the festivities took place online.
“For us, we really wanted to keep in as much tradition as possible,” said Courtney Pletcher '20 who, as special events coordinator of Union Board, was in charge of the Flunk Day planning committee. “Everyone loves the surprise of Flunk Day, the T-shirts, Friars, and themed activities. We did our best to adapt those to the virtual format.”
Knox's first-ever Flunk Week, a five-day event that took place May 18-22, featured a daily social media challenge, do-it-yourself activities, and live online get-togethers in the evenings. “The goal is to allow as many people as possible to participate while not conflicting too much with classes and coursework,” said Pletcher. “That’s also why we decided to do a week-long event instead of one single day.”
Some highlights of Flunk Week included an online quiz for students to see what campus building they’re most like, making and sharing Flunk Week playlists, an animal-a-day origami zoo, and YouTube video recommendations from Knox faculty.
“It’s really awesome to see present and past members of the Knox community interact with Flunk Week. Seeing alumni share past Flunk Day memories and seeing current students get involved and excited about Flunk Week has been so much fun,” said Pletcher.
As part of the evening activities, Union Board shared alumni-created music and videos featuring original songs, stories, and stand-up comedy. (A list of alumni participants is below; you can watch the videos on Facebook.)
Another Flunk Week highlight was a virtual performance by the Knox College Choir of "Locus iste", a longtime favorite piece of repertoire.
Recreating Flunk Day online, Pletcher said, “was an undertaking that no one expected.” But Pletcher and the rest of the Flunk Day planning committee knew that they wanted to make it happen. Together with Knox staff member Becky Canfield, the Flunk Day planners arranged for Knox students to order free T-shirts—T-shirts being a traditional element of Flunk Day festivities. “We wanted to commemorate this strange Flunk Day as well,” said Pletcher.
“I want to thank Becky Canfield, Jennifer Gallas, Laura Swanson, Meredith Witherell, Annie Gerdes, the Campus Life Office, Cheri Siebken, the Office of Communications, and everyone else who has helped us put this week together,” said Pletcher.
“Planning Flunk Week was one of the hardest projects I have taken on at Knox, and my committee was able to put together a week of free events and activities for an entire college in the midst of a pandemic. I am so proud of them and all of the hard work they have done.”
Several Knox alumni, performing individually or as part of a group, contributed their talents to the Flunk Day open mic events on May 19 and May 21:
Brian Werner '06
Andy Crawford '00
Duston Suits '84
Art Weible '93
Sylvie Davidson '06
Pam Schuller '09
Rachel Watson '19
Stevie Sparks '15
Amanda Shiew '14
Brian Tanaka '15