Playing Games, Petting Pups: Stress-Free Zone Offers Much-Needed Break for Finals Week
What could be better to reduce end-of-semester stress than petting a dog? How about petting multiple dogs and digitally dunking with LeBron through esports?
This year’s Stress-Free Zone, which is from 3-5 p.m. on Dec. 9 and 10, will be hosted on the first floor of University Library.
Cynthia Williams, director of marketing, communications and public relations for Kent State University Libraries, said that therapy dogs will be at the Stress-Free Zone this year as well as a plethora of snacks and a collaboration with Kent State Esports.
Maria Hawkins, Kent State Esports coordinator, said that there will be a variety of games for students to play during the Stress-Free Zone.
“Esports is competitive video games,” Hawkins said. “We have four teams on campus: Hearthstone, League of Legends, Overwatch and Rocket League. This is one of our biggest events during the semester. We offer different types of games for everyone to play as a way to relax and have fun.”
The Kent State Esports collaboration for the Stress-Free Zone includes “Beat Saber” a virtual reality (VR) game, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” and “NBA2K,” among others. Students can participate in the esports games in Room 152 of the first floor of the library, beginning at 2 p.m. on both days of the Stress-Free Zone.
“We’re proud to have them in the libraries,” Williams said. “We’re supportive collaborators with the esports program. Currently, they’re looking forward to relocating their area to the second floor, so that’s going to be a big splash.”
Many students attend the Stress-Free Zone to experience the Dogs on Campus Pet Therapy Program. Started by Kent State Professor Emerita Kathy Adamle, it was the first pet therapy program on a university campus in the country. Dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds attend the event each semester.
It’s estimated that roughly 12-14 dog owners will come to the Stress-Free Zone this semester, but the numbers can vary. According to Williams, dogs and dog owners benefit from the interaction brought by the students.
“The owners absolutely love it,” Williams said. “These owners have specifically trained their dogs, and they’ve gone through programming to allow their dogs to be therapeutic outreaches. They go anywhere where people are dealing with the pressures of life. The dogs provide a comforting diversion to what is heavily weighing on the minds of our campus community members.”
Williams went on to say that if the students come to the library during finals week, or for Stress-Free Zone in particular, they’ll understand that the libraries are there to help them.
“We want you to succeed in all of your schoolwork, but studies show that overstudying tends to be counterproductive to what you’re really trying to do,” Williams said. “The dogs allow that mental and physical release and make sure students are able to handle the pressures of studies when they get back to them. The students will also have snacks in their pocket, and we’ll give them 100 FlashPerk points.”
This semester’s event will feature coffee, popcorn, soft drinks, Red Bull and giveaways, including shirts, pins and stickers.
Hilary Kennedy, Kent State makerspace manager, said student employees of the Student Multimedia Studio and the Spark Innovation Studio will offer a hands-on activity during both Stress-Free Zone days. The maker station will be located near the Student Multimedia Studio on the library’s first floor.
Outside of the Stress-Free Zone, Williams encouraged students to use the other resources in the library. These university resources can include subject librarians, computer labs, the Writing Commons and presentation rooms.
“We hope to see you at Stress-Free, but we’re open 24 hours a day through finals week,” Williams said. “If it’s 4 a.m. and somebody’s too distracted to study in their house or their apartment, they can come to the library.”