Building community on Johnson Day
We at The Colby Echo would like to thank the Colby Volunteer Center (CVC) for reviving the Johnson Day tradition, and we commend the more than 100 volunteers who woke up early this past Saturday, April 2 to help members of the Physical Plant Department (PPD) with various projects around campus. For more information on Johnson Day, please see “Volunteer Center revives Johnson Day after 50 years” on Page 1.
The social aspect of Johnson Day was one of the most rewarding features of the
event. As students and PPD workers are rarely afforded the opportunity to interact,
the experience allowed the volunteers to meet and thank these members of the
Colby community, who often remain nameless in our lives. Furthermore, as PPD
workers are discouraged from fraternizing with students on a regular basis, Johnson
Day gave volunteers and PPD staff members the chance to break free of these
restrictive boundaries, working alongside one another.
Another unique aspect of Johnson Day was the creative approach it takes to solving
the dorm damage problem. The solution to dorm damage and alcohol-induced
vandalism has evaded our community for a long time. The Student Government
Association (SGA) has discussed a variety of ways to reduce dorm damage. While
some of the SGA programs have focused on discouraging dorm damage through
initiatives that make dorm spaces feel more like a home, such as hanging student
artwork in lounges to help foster a sense of ownership for the space, most of their
efforts have focused on changing or adding incentives not to commit dorm damage
(i.e. punishment). For a while there was talk of splitting costs evenly across every
student as opposed to by dorm, and, as recently as this semester, SGA has passed new dorm damage punishments that include forcing students to personally apologize at dorm meetingsto the residence halls which they vandalize.
What impresses us so much about Johnson Day is this unique approach to reducing
dorm damage, providing intrinsic motivation for not wanting to vandalize campus,
as opposed to heaping on more and more extrinsic motivation in the form of added
punishment. Decreasing dorm damage is about more than carrots and sticks—
rewards for being good or punishment for being bad. It is about understanding what
it takes to make this campus look as beautiful as it does, and appreciating the hard
work that PPD puts into cleaning up our messes.
No single day of work and no single club will be able to solve dorm damage. But we
believe that the spirit behind Johnson Day reflects the type of attitude from which
we could all benefit.
—The staff of The Colby Echo