At first glance, Shake Day presents itself as one of the tamer University traditions. Unlike the polar bear run or Scav Hunt, it requires no nudity and no shaving of heads.
It is true to University form, igniting plenty of philosophizing and, in recent weeks, a fair share of complaints.
Faced with an increasing number of student concerns about the campus tradition, the Campus Dining Advisory Board (CDAB) of the Inter-house Council (IHC) discussed Shake Day during a recent meeting with Aramark.
Scott Weese, a second-year in the College, IHC dining chair, said Aramark representatives were receptive to students' concerns. "Rather than say we'll look into it, we actually went down to shake day, we got ourselves some shakes," he said. The Aramark representatives noted that the shakes were a little thin," Weese said. "They immediately recognized that the recipe had been changed."
As a result of the meeting and subsequent investigation, the C-Shop changed to a recipe with a higher proportion of ice cream to milk, and Aramark purchased more "shake-making" blenders.
Weese is pleased with the outcome. "Since they have begun making [the shakes] thicker they are much better. I also think that they could be made thicker still, and I still want my jimmies, but [the shakes] aren't milky anymore and they are decently sized for a dollar," he said. "In olden times, Shake Day was apparently much more of a big deal, but we aren't exactly being ripped off with the size they sell now."
Student concerns have ranged from the downsizing of the shake cups to the shakes selling out mid-afternoon to a lack of flavors.
Recounting horror stories about Shake Day from last quarter, second-year in the College Nick Einhorn said, "They ran out on me and so I had a third of a cup full, and she was like, do you want me to fill the rest with whipped cream?"
Julia Rasmussen, a second-year, echoed Einhorn's indignation. "While I was in line they changed from the large clear plastic cups to the smaller paper cups," she said, adding that a few weeks ago "they served them in Dixie cups. It was about 80 percent milk to 20 percent ice cream."
In a particularly caustic appraisal of Shake Day's apparent decline, first-year Shannon Loomis said, "I asked for a shake, not whipped cream topped with shake."
Nevertheless, students agree that since IHC's meeting with Aramark, the quality of shakes has improved.
Shake Day is respected at even the highest levels of the administration. University Vice-President Steve Klass said that Shake Day has been specifically built into the contracts with food service providers. He said that the companies found Shake Day to be one of the most interesting elements of the University's 48-page proposal.
Associate Dean of the College Bill Michel said that after its renovation in 1996, the C-Shop purposely opened on a Wednesday Shake Day.
Michel said that the origins of Shake Day are something of a mystery. All he admits is that when he came to the University as a student in 1988, Shake Day was "going strong." Although a fan of glorifying campus tradition, Michel was quick to dispel myths that the shakes were ever the size of the 32-ounce fountain beverages in Bartlett. "I don't think they were that big," he admonished.
Even if the shakes must shrink as operating costs rise, Michel said it is important that shakes continue to cost a dollar.
Not everyone on campus is thrilled about Shake Day. "I really should fail any economics student who buys a milkshake on Wednesday," said Economics Professor Allen Sanderson. "They're exhibiting a shamefully low opportunity cost of their time."
Sanderson's opinions on Shake Day are known far and wide. "That's very nice of Professor Sanderson to think our time is so valuable," said second-year Dana Chandler. "It's a good way to encourage his students and boost their self-esteem. He seriously overestimates our job prospects."
One University economics researcher agreed with Sanderson, saying that $1 shakes require at least "$10 worth of time." Still, this researcher also said that utility cannot always be measured in dollars and cents. "Getting to wait on long lines is part of the pleasure of Shake Day," he suggested.
Eating a strawberry eclair bar purchased from the bell-laden tractor that has been traversing the campus, second-year Shu Sung argued that shakes were inferior to ice cream. "Same price and no waitit's the best substitute."