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Outdoor activities and food trucks draw more than 2000 to Community Care Day

A line of students in front of Whig Hall waiting for a food truck. In the background, two more trucks, also with lines.
Food trucks at Community Care Day.
Rohit Narayanan / The Daily Princetonian

Editor's Note: This piece has been updated with comment from University administrators. 

As the sun set over Cannon Green on Oct. 27, around 1,000 University community members showed up to participate in a "Community Gathering" to close the University’s inaugural Community Care Day, which invited “the entire campus community to focus on rejuvenation, reflection, and camaraderie,” as described in an email by the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Students Ian Deas sent on Oct. 25. While more than 2,000 students, faculty, and staff attended the event throughout the day, classes were still held that day, leading to some conflicts with programming.


The day’s schedule, starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 6:30 p.m., included stations for free food and drinks, as well as yoga, hiking, a rock climbing wall, and watercolors, among other activities. From 5 to 6:30 p.m., undergrads, graduate students, and faculty and President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 mingled at the Community Gathering on Cannon Green. Anne Laurita is the director of health promotion and prevention at University Health Services (UHS), which helped organize the event. She told The Daily Princetonian that the day was created “for our campus community to come together in cultivating an environment at Princeton that supports mental health,” adding that many events were planned in collaboration with students.

Eisgruber, dressed in a blue suit and orange tie, smiles in the midst of a crowd of students.
Eisgruber smiles.
Rohit Narayanan / The Daily Princetonian

In an email to the 'Prince,' Vice President for Campus Life Rochelle Calhoun said that the idea for the event came last spring when "both undergraduate and graduate students reached out to me to express their concerns about the collective sense of loss the community was feeling." The event took seven months to plan.

"The students shared that they wanted more space and time to focus on wellbeing and mental health as well as find ways for the community to come together," she said. 

"Community Care Day, in and of itself, was not designed to address the critically important issue of mental health.  However, as a reminder that we all need to find ways to mitigate against stress, be in supportive community and find joy in our day, Community Care Day lifts up this awareness, celebrates our supportive community and encourages self-care. These all positive mental health practices," Calhoun said.

“It was great seeing my friends outside in the beautiful fall foliage,” Daniel Wang ’26 told the ‘Prince.’ “I haven’t seen this many people together outdoors in a while, and it definitely impressed a sense of community.” 


Elisa Gonzalez ’27 attended the free coffee giveaway at Campus Club with her Spanish class. 

“It was nice because we got to talk outside of class and connect. I also went to decorate cupcakes at Frist, and that was nice as well,” she said. “I think this day was a good thing. It’s just a nice little reminder to take a break sometimes.”  

“Obviously it’s not a single day that is going to [permanently] change anything, but I was happy to see that this is something that is being talked about and that the University put thought into the quality and diversity of the activities that were offered,” Thiago Varella GS said. 

 Judy Jarvis, executive director for the office of campus engagement, which helped organize the event, wrote in a statement to the 'Prince' that "I spoke with a number of students and staff members throughout the day, and many shared how appreciative they were that the day didn’t ask much of them."

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"Our working group wanted to create a schedule that offered a wide range of rejuvenating activities, because rejuvenation means different things to different people," she said.

Other students expressed their interest in Community Care Day activities, but had trouble attending due to busy class schedules, office hours, and assignments due by Friday evening. 

“I think the whole principle of the day — prioritizing mental health and wellbeing over everything else — is undermined by not canceling classes. I couldn’t attend most of the events because I had classes all day,” said Laurie Drayton ’26 in an interview with the ‘Prince.’

Jarvis acknowledged that "organizing a truly campus-wide event that includes undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff, is complex because wellbeing and rejuvenation means different things to different people."

Other feedback concerned unclear communication from the University. Gonzalez told the ‘Prince’ that “it was hard keeping track of everything that was going on because the informational email was a little last minute.”

Community Care Day contributes to a broader campus effort in the past two years to support mental health and student wellbeing at Princeton. Recognition of this issue increased in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers of the event also mentioned the deaths by suicide of three students and one staff member in the past two years.

In September 2022, a working group formed between the University Student Government (USG), the Office of Campus Life, and UHS published a report evaluating existing mental health resources on campus. The report made a series of recommendations, including 24/7 on-demand Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS), funding for transportation to off-campus mental health services, and residential college staff training. 

Laurita explained the need for the broad variety of mental health support services and programs. 

“At Princeton, over the past several years, we have seen consistent increases in service utilization at [UHS’s] Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS),” she said. “This pattern aligns closely with national trends, with young adults’ self-reported mental health concerns and utilization of clinical services for these concerns on the rise.”

“The spirit of this inaugural Community Care Day contributes to a broader campus climate around bolstering community well-being. It is my hope that the event served both as one moment in time for meaningful connection and to complement ongoing, campus-wide initiatives that promote student well-being at individual, group, and systems levels,” she added.

Community Care Day came together as a collaboration between the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life, Campus Club, Campus Recreation, the Graduate School, the Graduate Student Government, Health Promotion and Prevention Services, Office of Human Resources, Office of Dean of Undergraduate Students, the Office of Campus Engagement, Outdoor Action, USG, and the Class of 1961 Foundation.

Meghana Veldhuis is a News contributor for the ‘Prince.’

Rebecca Cunningham is an assistant News editor for the ‘Prince.’

Please send any corrections to corrections[at]