De-Stress Fest: Having Fun, Learning to Survive Finals Week

Mason law student cuddle a puppy during Puppy Days at the School of Law. This week . Photo by Alexis Glenn/Creative Services

Spring semester’s finals week can be an especially stressful time for students. As they scramble to finish school work or head to a new job or new school, students often give up on healthy eating habits and face-to-face social interactions. Instead, many hide in their rooms with only a computer, textbooks and a box of pizza for company.

George Mason University’s De-Stress Fest, a series of events taking place this week, serves as the perfect opportunity to relax, have fun and mentally recharge before finals, says Melissa Ulmer, assistant director for Student Government.

“Many activities also offer resources and information, such as study tips, stress management techniques, healthy eating information and more—all critical at a time when students are preparing to face added stress,” she says.

De-Stress Fest is sponsored by University Life’s Student Involvement and runs April 27 to May 3. Events are sponsored by several offices across campus.

A few highlights

Housing and Residence Life’s Cram Jam: Luau by the Sea, takes place in Southside Dining Hall from 10 p.m. to midnight on Wednesday, April 29. Students are invited to drop into a South Sea-themed study break that includes raffle prizes such as a GoPro, an iPad, Beats headphones, a television, a long board and George Mason swag.

“Cram Jam is a great way to take a break from the craziness of finals week and just to enjoy being a student,” says program assistant and organizer Kathryn Rodriguez.

Student Elyse Powderly, another program assistant and event organizer, says she especially enjoys throwing “study bucks” off of the dining hall’s balcony into the crowd below.

“Everyone goes crazy for the chance to catch the study bucks and enter them into the raffle,” she says.

Denise Taylor, executive director of Housing and Residence Life, sees the event as a residence hall community pep rally.

“It’s a time to celebrate academic successes and get ready to finish the year strong,” she says.

Hungry Games, hosted by Wellness, Alcohol, and Violence Education and Services, will take place on Thursday, April 30, at the SUB I Quad (Rain Location: SUB I, Patriot’s Lounge). Students will be challenged on their college survival skills in the areas of wellness, fitness, nutrition, teamwork and stress-relief.

“It’s important for students to take care of themselves because if they don’t, they can feel overwhelmed and inadequate,” says organizer and graduate assistant Ashley Freeman. “We want them to be empowered.”

One of the most eagerly anticipated events is the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dog Day, also scheduled for Thursday. Students and employees alike can stop by the Johnson Center East Plaza from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the warm and fuzzy stress relief that comes from interacting with interacting with a few furry friends.

De-Stress Fest coincides with the conclusion of Mason’s Spring into Well-Being Initiative; both awareness campaigns highlight ongoing well-being practice activities, such as yoga and tai chi workshops sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, and mindfulness workshops conducted by Counseling and Psychological Services’ Learning Services.

De-Stress Fest is made possible by many campus partners, such as Off-Campus Programs and Services, WAVES, LEAD, the Honor’s College, Peer Academic Advisors, Mason Recreation, the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, University Libraries, Student Centers, Housing and Residence Life, Counseling and Psychological Services, and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. For more information and a schedule of events, visit the Student Involvement website.

Write to Colleen Kearney Rich at

By Penny Gilchrist

This story was originally posted at