Whitworth’s campus-wide service day has long been a touchstone of students’ Whitworth experience. What is now known as Community Building Day started out as “Campus Day,” when Whitworth students on the Tacoma campus spruced up the grounds and prepared them for baseball and track events in the spring. The tradition carried over to Spokane for many years; classes were cancelled, a beefsteak breakfast was served, and students rallied together to rake pine needles, shine windows and do their part to beautify the campus. Music piped through the campanile speakers energized students, who were rewarded for their work with an afternoon picnic and an evening songfest and weenie roast at Pirates Cove.
The tradition was suspended for a number of years but resumed in fall 1988 as a way to build dorm pride. Each dorm received $200 to make “home” improvements, and the winning dorm – determined by the percentage of students participating and votes from faculty and staff based on the students’ efforts – received an extra $200 to spend on additional dorm needs. That year, The Village won; dorm members used their windfall to purchase a VCR.
By the mid-1990s, Community Building Day had evolved into a partnership between local nonprofit organizations and Whitworth students, faculty and staff, who work on projects throughout Spokane. This has become a foundational event in developing social and civic responsibility in Whitworth students. Today, approximately 1,000 Whitworth volunteers participate in this annual September highlight of the academic year, and the estimated value of time given to projects each year is over $20,000.