Wisconsin Universities Go to Extremes to Help Students Relax for Finals

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has set up a coloring station to help snowflakes students relax amid the stress of final exams.

"Need to pause? Color a page!" invites a sign affixed to a table, on which are crayons and other coloring supplies as well as coloring book pages.

UWM student Sam Firari noticed and took a picture of the table, which was apparently set up ahead of Finals Week, which officially begins on Saturday. 

As Badger Pundit notes, UWM is hardly the only school in the University of Wisconsin system to take drastic steps to ensure that students are relaxed for finals.

UW-Madison has a designated relaxation space in the College Library, complete with, um, a plant and a picture of a plant.

According to the school's rules for using the space, students may not study in this space, use their electronic devices, or sleep.  Seriously? What's more relaxing than sleep? 

UW-Madison also offers audio files of relaxation techniques for stressed-out students and even stress management classes, but can it offer "guided relaxation biofeedback computer programs?" 

If not, then UW-Madison students aren't nearly as relaxed as they could be at UW-Stout's Zen Zone, "a place where you can learn to master stress, calm down, and experience relaxed attention. Resources include two guided relaxation biofeedback computer programs, Heart Math’s emWave and The Chopra Center’s Relaxing Rhythms. Besides the biofeedback practice, there is an easy chair, light box therapy, guided imagery CDs, and a lending library. Or, sit back and enjoy your own music or relaxation program."

The Zen Zone even offers a suggestion on phrases to repeat while enjoying your own relaxation program:

Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile

Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.

Breathing in, I am a mountain.
Breathing out, I am strong.

Breathing in, I am a flower.
Breathing out, I smile.

Breathing in, I am a mountain pool.
Breathing out, I am calm.

Breathing in, I prepare to vomit.  Breathing out, I do.  Still, UW-Stout students aren't nearly as relaxed as they could be since they don't have pet therapy to help them get through finals.

UW-Parkside, though, does, and employs "therapuppies."  The Kenosha News reported in December:  

As the semester winds down and final exams loom, students at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside are going canine to break the stress.

Specifically, they’ve been gathering at the library to scratch, pet and cuddle with Miles, a golden retriever and therapy dog.

“It is really relaxing,” said nursing student Awisi Obua, brushing Miles’ coat. “I was a little down coming in here. I have to study. The dog made me feel better about the day.”

“It gets your mind off everything,” said Andrea Eliason, a physical therapy major from River Falls. “Away from the craziness of finals.”

Likewise, UW-Whitewater brings in dogs to help students at the Andersen Library.  Faculty member Rebecca Jones explains how the program started:

We were already focusing on our heavily stressed students during exam time by providing free popcorn and coffee and by extending our hours. The free food was a huge hit, and campus tour guides even touted it during tours for prospective students. We looked for new ways to help our students relax. We quickly added coloring pages, crafts, contests, card-making, and a graffiti wall for students to write comments and draw on. Soon, we were going through roughly 1,000 coloring pages each finals period. In addition to focusing on mental health with programming, we have also added yoga balls and a treadmill desk for students to use while studying. 

Seriously, was UW-Whitewater even trying to de-stress its students? Coloring pages, crafts, a graffiti wall? Those are for amateurs.  Professional relaxation requires dogs.

In 2014, we began having student employees go out the evening before or morning of the events to “chalk” the sidewalks around the library announcing the dogs’ impending arrival. The students drew paw prints along with the time and date and a few random “woofs.” We took photos of these drawings and posted them to social media to get students excited. We added a full schedule of the therapy dates and times (along with photos) to our computer desktops’ images to help get the word out to all our current patrons.

And the program has been so successful that Jones believes students might even choose UW-Whitewater solely for its dogs.

"While we haven’t surveyed students to see if they chose Whitewater for this reason," she writes, "I wouldn’t be surprised if the campus gained a few new students this way!"

Hopefully those students didn't drop out because of Whitewater's inexcusable lack of therapy kittens.

Have you seen something ridiculous on your campus? Email Dan at DOD@NewsTalk1130.com or message him on Facebook or Twitter

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