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Davis, California

Friday, June 14, 2024

Guest opinion: Saving Picnic Day

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that this year’s Picnic Day is a particularly important one. What happens on Saturday will determine the fate of the campus’ oldest and most beloved tradition — a hundred-year tradition that has survived the likes of hoof and mouth disease and a world war only to meet its potential end now and in this way.

I am not here to comment on the wisdom or efficacy of the various efforts that ASUCD, the University, and the City have undertaken to try to fix Picnic Day. We can debate endlessly about what will and will not work and who is and is not responsible for the problems that plague Picnic Day.

After speaking with top University and City administration officials one thing is quite clear: the cancellation of Picnic Day is still a very real possibility.

This is our one shot — our make-it-or-break-it year.

So I call upon all students to do everything in their individual power to save Picnic Day. Whether you drink a little, moderately, excessively or not at all, every student contributes directly or indirectly, intentionally or not to a culture that says Picnic Day is just about drinking. Let’s change that.

Some will say it’s just students being students and that we should all lighten up and live a little. That’s the attitude that students at Cal Poly, Chico and countless other universities probably took, but look how that ended. Both campuses saw the end of their annual events.

Picnic Day’s longevity as a campus tradition is something to be proud of, something to protect, but as Cal Poly and Chico demonstrate, it will not save Picnic Day alone. A tradition that is perhaps only a fraction of its former “fun” is still better than no tradition and no fun at all.

Picnic Day is in your hands. Save it for all the Aggies who came before and for all the Aggies who have worked tirelessly over its hundred years to organize it. Save it for all the Aggies yet to come, and most importantly, save it for yourself.

Don’t let Picnic Day’s cancellation be your generation’s legacy.

Steven D. Lee is a 2009 graduate of UC Davis who served on the Picnic Day Board of Directors, three City of Davis Commissions and as ASUCD’s Director of City & County Affairs and External Affairs Chair.


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