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Previewing May Day and Unity Day

“May the fourth” be with you this weekend as UNH hosts two major campus-wide events this Saturday: 

Unity Day – 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. 

In its second year, Unity Day is a new annual event dedicated to bringing UNH students and community members together at year’s end in the name of local community service. The event, originally spawning as a response to 2017’s controversial Cinco de Mayo celebrations, also seeks to better track and emphasize the community service hours UNH students perform over the course of an academic year, according to Dean of Students John T. Kirkpatrick. 

“We’d never counted them before [Unity Day 2018],” Kirkpatrick told The New Hampshire, “and it turns out that UNH students – just undergraduates – put in almost half-million volunteer hours a year…so it’s clearly a value among students, and we thought, ‘what better way to end the academic year but to come together as a community and look outward, meaning serve the larger units here on campus and in the town of Durham, the town that we reside in?’” 

As with last year, this year’s Unity Day will feature collaborations with the Student Senate and other student leaders, as well as an appearance by UNH President James W. Dean, Jr., and his wife, both of who will, with the help of several students, plant a university Arbor tree in front of Thompson Hall. Kirkpatrick said that for his part, he will contribute by cleaning the red bird sculpture residing between Memorial Union and Health and Wellness. Student volunteers will also assist by cleaning in the area around the Hamel Recreation Center (HRC), participating in the half-naked half-mile run, helping various Greek organizations with several downtown projects, and climbing a state mountain to raise awareness for mental health, among other volunteer options.

Unity Day lasts from 9:30 a.m. Saturday, the latest students can sign up for volunteer work, to 12:30 p.m., when the Mayday carnival is set to start. Students can sign up online until Saturday and in-person early Saturday. 

May Day – 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. 

Following Unity Day, students can take part in the excitement of the Mayday end-of-year carnival, located in Campus Crossing Visitor Lot between Mills and Englehardt Halls. According to May Day co-chair Caroline Truesdell – who manages the event alongside co-chair Karen Zapata, both a part of the Campus Activities Board (CAB) – the event is set to include attractions such as the “zipper” vertical thrill ride, a “zero gravity” ride, a “tornado” swing ride, and a “twister” ride, all staples of classic amusement parks. A coconut tree climb, bungee run, wipe out inflatable and other various games will also be featured at the event. Truesdell said that the rides change out every year.

Aside from attractions, food will be provided by Lee-based coffee shop Coffee Craving, a Jamaican food truck serving Jamaican-style foods, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. DJ Greg Sowa, a frequent guest at larger UNH events like May Day and Homecoming, is set to provide music and entertainment for the event’s entirety. 

Truesdell, in an email to The New Hampshire, said that she and the rest of the May Day staff are looking forward to making the event a “volunteer site” for student volunteers during Unity Day, which ends before the start of Mayday; the event will resultantly offer “skip the line passes” to Unity Day volunteers so that they can come to May Day without the wait after Unity Day. 

“This event is a celebration of the end of the year,” the event co-chair said. “I have always seen it as a “you did it” from CAB for completing the whole year. It gives community members and UNH students a day filled with fun activities.” 

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