The Past, Present, and Future of Values Day

Chase Berger, Writer - The Reporter

    Every year, like clockwork, Stetson University students count on having a day off during the fall semester to celebrate Values Day. A Global Citizenship Fair takes place on campus where nonprofit organizations and the university’s study abroad partners set up tables on the green. Students spend the day milling about the booths, talking to organizations, and learning about volunteer, study abroad, and internship opportunities. A keynote speaker speaks to the student body after a performance hosted by the School of Music in Lee Chapel. However, the clock stopped working before the Fall 2020 semester. The semester came and passed, but there had been no day off, no Global Citizenship Fair, no keynote speaker—no Values Day.


    Values Day was first established in the early 1990s by the school’s eighth president, H. Douglas Lee. The university’s values – personal growth, intellectual development, and global citizenship – are celebrated and fostered during the day. According to the Stetson University official website, “Values Day is designed to continue the dialogue between students, faculty and staff so that the Stetson University community shares, learns, and appreciates our shared core values.” Overtime, it has evolved into what can only be described as a unique tradition to Stetson University.


    As the Spring 2021 semester began and the number of active COVID-19 cases in Volusia County lowered, the opportunity arose for Values Day to take place. Savannah-Jane Griffin, Executive Director of Community Engagement and Inclusive Excellence and the Chair of Values Day, leapt at the chance to make the annual event happen. With a yes from Griffin, the Calendar Planning Committee marked February 21 as 2021’s Values Day.


    According to Griffin, the Calendar Planning Committee agreed that “more than ever,… [it was] important to have a Values Day… to bring the community together to reflect on what we’ve just gone through.” Racing against the clock that started to tick once more, she organized the event in a mere month instead of six, without the help of a recruited committee. With a skeleton crew consisting of the Values Day chair, marketing department, I.T. department, and a few other faculty members, the event was planned.


    The theme for the day was selected: “Hindsight 2020.” According to Griffin, the theme was chosen because “[the faculty] felt like it was really important to reflect on all of the challenges we faced and some in which we’ve overcome… and how we’ve coped with those, and then how do we move forward as a community and address some of these big issues.”


    After sending out emails to recruit workshops with her fingers crossed, Griffin received 16 responses. While about 30 workshops can typically be expected on Values Day, 16 was a miracle with only a two week’s notice. Even given the comparatively fewer workshops than normal, Griffin stressed the “ diverse amount of topics that are covered” by the workshops participating.


    After beating the time crunch, she held out hope “that people would feel a sense of community, even if it’s virtual… [and] feel proud to be a Hatter.” February 21 arrived and the events of the day began. 


    Topics of discussion ranged from the current pandemic, diversity, academic dishonesty, disability justice, the history of racial terror in Volusia County, and a variety of others. Intramural trivia was played on the Stetson Green. President Christopher Roellke, Ph.D, hosted a panel that acknowledged and reflected on racial injustice. Aliya Cruise (‘20), Ashley Martinez (‘20), and Madison Skelton (‘23) even gave a virtual presentation about the DeLand community and volunteer opportunities. To wrap up the events of the day, Uncouth Hour concluded the night.


    As the past is reflected upon, it’s time for Savannah-Jane Griffin to begin planning next year’s Values Day. While she has thought about continuing this year’s theme into the next semester, nothing is set in stone yet, and she isn’t quite certain what next year’s annual event will bring.


    “I think what’s going to happen in the future is presenters for workshops will have the option to choose if they want to do virtual, or if they want to do in person when we get to that kind of tier. I think that makes it more accessible for people, you know, especially for alumni or students that are off campus…to be able to participate but not have to be physically on campus.” 


   So, while no one is quite sure where Stetson University, let alone the world, will be by next semester, it is important to reflect on the past, actively work in the present, while thinking about the future. The clock is slowly starting to function once more. 


   As a big believer of community input, Griffin will be looking to recruit students and faculty alike to her Values Day committee. If you would like to be part of the committee, she asks that you contact her at [email protected]