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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

Picnic Day leaders, students beg you to “Handle Your Shit”

UC Davis’ 98th annual Picnic Day is just around the corner and this year’s festivities will once again be promoted by the grassroots campaign, “Handle Your Shit.”

The campaign was started last year by a few students who worked to save Picnic Day from being permanently shut down due to consistent violations concerning alcohol possession both within the university and the city of Davis. The campaign encourages all people who visit Davis on Picnic Day to practice safe drinking and responsible partying.

ASUCD president Rebecca Sterling said that the administration and the city of Davis are concerned about the increase from 40,000 to 100,000 people coming to the Picnic Day celebration, as well as community members feeling unsafe due to house parties and reported hate crimes.

While the Picnic Day safety enhancement zone, which outlines the areas of the city in which alcohol-related offenses will incur steep fines, have been expanded this year, the annual event is facing the same risks from previous years, said former ASUCD President Adam Thongsavat.

“Picnic Day has changed a lot in terms of security,” said Thongsavat, a senior history major. “It only takes one mistake, one accident, for the whole thing to be cancelled. So the students decided to do the “Handle Your Shit Campaign” again this year because the threat always looms.”

The “Handle Your Shit” campaign is not organized by ASUCD or even the Picnic Day board but by the UC Davis student body, committed to preserving the annual celebration which is appreciated on and off campus.

“Last year was not only the introduction of safety zones around campus but it was also  a trial for Picnic Day,” Sterling said. “Things were temporarily held together last year by the student body’s campaign, so one year doesn’t really set the culture for what things will look like. However, the great student body of this campus has been incredibly helpful with keeping Picnic Day a tradition.”

Using a Facebook page set up by Thongsavat, Sterling and others, the campaign has distributed a rather popular shirt around campus for $12 each. The white shirt displays a red cup with the words “Handle Your Shit” on the front, and the back features a cow graphic. Last year, the shirt sold out in a matter of days. This year’s shirts sold within two weeks, and there is still a very high demand for more shirts as Picnic Day approaches.

“We’ve sold roughly about 300 shirts,” Thongsavat said. “They are so popular because of the straightforward message ‘Handle Your Shit.’ And it’s a message that is delivered in a language that many of us on campus have heard before.”

Sterling explained that although the campaign has had a positive impact in saving Picnic Day, the same discourse regarding its continuation is occurring between the city and UC Davis.

The “Handle Your Shit! Save Picnic Day (Again)!” Facebook page aims to prevent issues that occurred during last year’s festivities, such as parties being held on front lawns.

“The key is not discouraging everyone from having a good time, but really emphasizing the fact that the tradition of Picnic Day can be celebrated and protected by the actions of the student body,” Sterling said.

As Picnic Day’s Board of Directors have to plan many events leading up to the festival, the support of the student body in saving Picnic Day has also been effective in other ways.

“In some ways, the campaign has been turned into a tool to educate students about what Picnic Day is in an effective manner,” said Picnic Day Chair Jennifer Mappis. “We cannot emphasize this enough. Thank you to all of the students, faculty, campus officials and community members for working together to help ensure that Picnic Day will continue for years to come.  It’s truly amazing to see all of the involvement from community and campus members in working with us to save Picnic Day.”

DOMINICK COSTABILE can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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