VCU welcomes finals with end-of-semester traditions

As finals week quickly approaches, students often find themselves burdened by the heightened workload and lack of motivation prior to the start of summer vacation. While finals week is undoubtedly one of the most stressful weeks of the semester, Virginia Commonwealth University has countless programs and activities for students to participate in to relieve stress and stay motivated during finals.

Organizations which provide these activities include the University Counseling Services, Student Government Association, Activities Programming Board, MCV Programs and more. Each year, these organizations put on events during finals week, with continued success year after year. This year, many of the events will be held in the University Student Commons, making them easily accessible to the student body. While some events are tried and true hits, others are new, innovative approaches to engage the student body and relieve tension during finals week. All events are free to the public and attendees are free to come and go according to what best fits their schedule.

  1. Extra Study Space

Every semester, Student Government Association (SGA) proudly hosts extra study spaces for student use in the Richmond Salons. This recurring event is held in a large space with long tables and plenty of space for students to spread out and stay focused. The event is generally catered by restaurants such as Panera and is a convenient way for students to come in, stay focused and enjoy a snack while they study. Extra study space will be in the Richmond Salons from 9 to 11 a.m. starting April 30, and will take place every day until May 7 (except for May 1).Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 2.22.49 PM

“(The event is) absolutely full every time,” president of SGA, senior Brandon Day, said. “Everyone knows that the library will be packed during finals week, but not many know that the Commons won’t. Student organizations that usually are using the space are no longer using it because of finals, so we wanted to use it as a study space on behalf of the student body. It’s been a huge success.”

  1. Midnight Shafer

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 12.44.53 PMA semi-annual favorite for many students, Midnight Shafer is a collaboration of student organizations and departments, including VCU police and SGA,  to bring a midnight breakfast to Shafer Dining Hall. The event will take place in Shafer Dining Hall on Monday, April 27 from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Complete with a chocolate fountain, smoothie bar and stacks of French toast, the event is limitedly free to the the first people to come through the door. Students are also allowed to swipe into the event and students who use a meal swipe are given first priority.

  1. Paws for Stress

Paws for Stress is an event which brings certified therapy dogs to VCU at the end of every semester. University Counseling Services pairs up with the Center for Human-Animal Interaction (CHAI) for the event, which draws between 300 to 1,000 students every semester. The dogs used are all volunteered by their owners to go through training to become therapy dogs. Dogs on Call, the program of which they are a part, works primarily in the VCU Medical Center, providing therapy relief to patients. The event which occurs every year in central locations such as the compass, Commons Plaza, and this year in the Virginia Rooms, which are easily accessible and free to students.10336828_646463098777859_6286427684788638754_n

“Its fun to see students enjoying themselves and decreasing stress,” Tori Keel, clinical case manager for University Counseling Services, said. “Its a solely positive event which students respond really well to. They (CHAI) provide the dogs, but its really students who make it so popular.”

Paws for Stress will be in the Virginia Rooms on Tuesday, April 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.


  1. Caribbean Escape

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 12.33.08 PMAPB’s end of the semester relaxation event is an island-themed celebration complete with an oxygen bar, sand-art, bamboo aroma reeds and food and drinks catered by Tropical Smoothie. The event, much like the Winter Relaxation event, will have relaxation giveaways which include stress balls, finals packs and more. The event will take place on Monday, April 27 from 12 to 4 p.m. Attendance is free, and students are not required to sign up for the event in advance.

“We know you would love to be on a beach right now,” Stephanie Miller, coordinator of student programming, said. “This event brings the tropics to you, and there are a lot more giveaways and take-homes for people who attend.”

  1. Ram Ex-Scream

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 12.36.27 PMAn unconventional way to relieve stress? Screaming! Students are invited to the Commons Plaza on April 29 at 9 p.m. Attendees will receive free tshirts, study packs and treats from Insomnia Cookies.

“It’s a cool way to get away from studying,” Miller said. “I think VCU does a lot to give people a much-needed break.”

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