A typical Weaver Wednesday has a foolproof formula: a laid-back activity, some casual conversation and a lot of free food. When asked what constitutes a successful Weaver Wednesday, frequent attendees Georgia Stolle-McAllister ’20 and Fiona Ellsworth ’20 easily agreed on, “good food and lots of food. Set in the living-room-esque atmosphere of Weaver Cottage, Weaver Wednesday has been a consistent option in Kenyon’s Wednesday night social scene since its inception a little over two years ago. Assistant Director of Student Engagement Sam Filkins started the program after observing a lack of social options for Kenyon students on Wednesday nights. He wanted to organize something fun for those who didn’t want to go to an Old Kenyon bullseye party in the middle of their week.
The first Weaver Wednesday that Filkins hosted was a pizza and board games event, and he needed 10 students to attend for the events to continue. “I got exactly 10 people,” he said. By the end of that same year, he was getting 80 to a 100 people each Wednesday.
Students now plan Weaver Wednesdays, with Filkins’ fellow Assistant Director of Student Engagement Allyson Hays taking over as the coordinator. Hosting the program has gotten so popular that, within 48 hours of sending out the application to host, Hays finds herself with an excess of willing student organizations.
“We wanted to do Weaver Wednesday because it fulfills the campus contribution requirement but also it’s a really accessible way to reach more people,” said Eva Warren ’19, a member of Canterbury Kenyon, the group that hosted last week’s Weaver Wednesday.
With student organizations deciding on themes and running the show, each Weaver Wednesday has its own personality. Past events have ranged from groups of students intensely pursuing jazzercise, emphatically counting along with the 1980s-era instructor projected onto a screen in front of them, to a relaxing night of collage-making and snacks. Last week’s Weaver Wednesday was king-themed. Participants joyfully exclaimed when found a gummy bear from in an enormous king cake while others proudly participated in paper crown-making.
“One of the great things is that it can be a little different every week,” Hays said.
Because of its location on North Campus and the opportunity it provides to meet other students in a friendly environment, Weaver Wednesdays are a big draw for underclassmen. Hays said that of the loyalty cards turned in last semester — which students can redeem for a T-shirt — the majority came from sophomores and first years. Stolle-McAllister and Ellsworth estimated that they attended eight Weaver Wednesdays each last semester; the proximity of Weaver to their McBride Residence Hall dorm makes Weaver Wednesdays a convenient opportunity for them to relax every week.
While Weaver Wednesday’s atmosphere can vary depending on the theme of the week, the general feeling of friendliness and inclusion is always the same. As this reporter was interviewing her, Warren invited a newcomer in the cottage to “feel free to destroy that cake,” an opportunity that she did not pass up.
“To watch someone walk in by themselves and then see other people in the room look up and say ‘Hey, do you want to join us?’ — that’s one of my favorite parts of Weaver Wednesday,” Hays said.
Filkins agreed. “I’ve been at events where you see people doing karaoke that you would’ve never expected to do it,” he said. “It’s completely judgment-free.”
Both Filkins and Hays are happy with the current state of Weaver Wednesday. Stolle-McAllister — who spent some of her time in last week’s king-themed Weaver Wednesday standing contently with a handmade crown on her head and an empty plate on the table before her — appreciates the weekly opportunity to have some fun.
As the chatter of several different groups making their own crowns filled the room, she observed, “It’s pretty reliable.”