This year March 5, 2015 is the day many international writing centers celebrate the Long Night Against Procrastination. Patrick Johnson, Director of the Meijer Center for Writing at Grand Valley State University, shares how his institution has run a #lndah, or how they refer to it, a #NAP event for the last 3 years (this year will be their 4th). Unfortunately, due to the university’s spring break, the Center for Writing has delayed their NAP event until March 12-13. Below is a brief overview about the planned events.
The Night Against Procrastination has become an annual tradition at Grand Valley State University. We started offering the event four years ago after learning about it from Sandra Ballweg (TU Darmstadt). Each year it has grown and we have been able to involve more campus programs in the promotion and organization of the event. The first year we held the event we had roughly 120 students attend, whereas last year we had over 200.
For students, NAP is an opportunity to get started on end-of-semester projects/papers after returning from spring break. For writing consultants, it is an essential form of staff bonding where many consultants participate as students as well as assisting with the running of the event. Traditionally, there are not many public outreach events that writing center’s host, so NAP is our one event where we invite everyone on campus to come to the writing center, learn about services, and surround themselves with productivity. A local pizza restaurant donates pizza for our midnight snack and we also offer desk yoga, brain games, campus walks and sunset viewings, as well as a victor’s breakfast for those who survive the night. We also give out pins to students who participate that say “power napper” and “I went all night.”
In terms of planning and time management of student writers, there is no one approach that works. Our first year, we labeled rooms based on the expected noise level (with a range from coffee shop to church). However, students requested more variety and we have since added ‘loud rooms’ where conversation is open and groups often work on projects. The promotional flyer explains more in detail what we do on the day of the event. One of the materials we offer to participants provides ideas on how to incorporate Desk Yoga to perform simple stretches at the office desk. Every other hour, writing consultants go into the semi-loud and very-loud rooms and ask everyone to participate. We’ve found that consultants’ enthusiasm and a few basic stretches help students stay productive throughout the night.
We solicit feedback from participants after the event and try to incorporate their suggestions into the following year’s event. Each year I get more and more requests to offer additional NAP events. While the cost and organizational effort of the event is too severe to offer multiple all-nighters, student interest is a good sign of the popularity of the idea.
In terms of promotion, we also communicate with police/parking to get permission to have student’s park overnight. We alert custodial staff to our plans. We promote the event to faculty on campus, post signs on bulletin boards/displays, and advertise on the radio/social media. The more our staff gets excited about the event, the more ideas they have to share about improving NAP. For example, this year, several consultants decided our NAP needs a theme and are planning to attend, and assist students, dressed as superheroes.
Thanks, Patrick, for the information and best of luck to you and your writing tutors organizing this year’s NAP event.