Motives differ for FFTW pledges

by Beacon Staff • February 2, 2006

For some students, however, it represents the freebies they get for making what is many times an empty promise: a $5 coupon for library fees, a free T-shirt and a key chain that grants access to weekend events such as dinners, massages and a spa day.,The "free" in last week's Free for the Weekend (FFTW) event is supposed to refer to a challenge to remain free from addictive substances and behaviors for a weekend.

For some students, however, it represents the freebies they get for making what is many times an empty promise: a $5 coupon for library fees, a free T-shirt and a key chain that grants access to weekend events such as dinners, massages and a spa day.

This was the appeal for senior communication sciences and disorders major Cara Jacobs, who has participated in FFTW in the past, but never completed the challenge.

"I normally participate because I like the T-shirts," Jacobs said. "I'm never substance free [for the weekend]."

The Emerson College Fitness Center is routinely jammed with patrons sporting the maroon "Clue"-themed FFTW tees.

For many of these students, signing up for FFTW was an easy way to obtain the free duds.

"I signed up for the T-shirt," said Melanie Falcon, a sophomore broadcast journalism major. "T-shirts make great workout shirts."

According to sophomore writing, literature and publishing major Julia Johnson, some students who violate their FFTW pledge do so wearing their FFTW gear.

"I went to three Emerson parties and I saw a lot of people wearing the Free for the Weekend T-shirts, and most of them were drinking and partying," Johnson said.

Christy Letizia, coordinator of Off Campus Student Services and co-chair of Free for the Weekend, said that about 400 students signed up.

Letizia said that while it is not possible to know exactly who follows through on the pledge to remain substance free and who signs up just to receive these perks, she said she thinks many participants remain true to their word.

Senior writing, literature and publishing major Becca Blacker, who volunteered at the FFTW sign-up table outside of the Little Building Dining Hall, said she agreed that many students promise and commit to keeping true to the spirit of weekend-long program.

"[They] think it's important and use it as a jump start for New Year's resolutions or just taking better care of their bodies," Blacker said.

Sophomore writing, literature and publishing major Kira Cowan agreed that a lot of students do adhere to the promise.

"[I] have a lot of friends who do it, and they all take it pretty seriously," Cowan said.

Some of the students attending the events, however, did not sign the FFTW promise.

NoBoozaPalooza, the FFTW- sponsored comedy night last Friday, was open to all students, regardless of whether or not they signed the pledge.

"[I don't do Free For the Weekend] because I smoke, so that really wouldn't correlate well," said audience member Drew Heron, a freshman writing, literature and publishing major.

Despite her knowledge that many students fail to carry out the FFTW promise they sign up for, Letizia said she thinks the program benefits those students who keep the pledge.

"Probably a close majority [of the students] make at least an effort to remain substance free," Letizia said.

Christina DerHagopian contributed to this report.