Carnegie Mellon University

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November 02, 2021

You’re Invited to Carnegie Mellon’s Third Annual Tartan Community Day

By Mandi Semple

Tartan Community Day is a day for students, faculty and staff to take a break from the daily norm and to connect, restore and play, in meaningful ways.

The first Tartan Community Day took place in 2019 and was an outcome of the Task Force on the CMU Experience, which was convened in 2016 to prioritize and enhance a community experience in which all members can engage, build resilience and thrive. During the third year of this event, that is still the goal.

This year’s theme is connection, in all of its various forms, and the joy that comes from it.

“When we looked back to the ‘why’ of this day and the disruption of the past year and a half for our university community, the Tartan Community Day planning committee distinctly landed on connection as the day’s focus,” said Maureen (Mo) Dasey-Morales, co-chair of the Tartan Community Day planning committee and associate vice president for community health and well-being. “Connection comes in so many forms and takes on different levels of meaning for each of us. That was at the core of our planning for tomorrow’s events and engagement opportunities.”

This year’s Tartan Community Day programming includes both in-person and virtual opportunities and is a day off from classes. Faculty, staff and students can take part in the Tartan Food Truck Fest and choose their own Tartan Adventure with activities such as zip lining, inflatable escape rooms, a petting zoo, expanded Gym-X courses, and more.

“Connection comes in so many forms and takes on different levels of meaning for each of us.” — Maureen (Mo) Dasey-Morales

The day’s keynote speaker is Alex Sheen, five-time TEDxTalk speaker, author, podcast host and internationally recognized humanitarian, who will present “Because I said I would. The importance of promise.” Alex Sheen is the founder of "because I said I would," a social movement and nonprofit dedicated to bettering humanity through promises made and kept.

Sparked by the loss of his father, Alex and his organization send “promise cards” to anyone anywhere in the world at no cost. In just two years, because I said I would has sent over 3.15 million promise cards to more than 153 different countries. His charitable projects and awareness campaigns have been featured in The Los Angeles Times and on ABC World News, CNN, The Today Show, NPR, and many other programs.

After that, the community can further explore the power of promises during the Community Connections Workshop: Designing Rituals for Joy and Connection, facilitated by Margaret Hagan and 2011 College of Fine Arts graduate Kursat Oxenc, authors of the book "Rituals for Work." Participants will learn about the power of rituals to help with transitions, burnout, and community-building, as well as create some new rituals to try.

“Rituals give us space and permission to go beyond the daily grind and connect with one another at a deeper, and more humane level,” said Oxenc, vice president of design at JPMorgan Chase’s New Business Ventures Lab and faculty member at Stanford “When people move, talk, sing, and pay attention together, this creates behavioral synchronization. Once people are in sync, they feel a sense of unity and experience a state of flow. This emotional payoff elevates people into a state of joy.”

“To be sure, it’s been a challenging year for all of us: students, faculty, staff, our families, and our loved ones,” said Molly Wright Steenson, co-chair of the Tartan Community Day planning committee and vice provost for faculty. “Tartan Community Day gives us a much needed opportunity to re-engage, to play, and to connect. I can’t wait.”


A student rides the zip line at the 2019 Tartan Community Day.

a student rides the zip line in 2019

Members of the university community enjoy yoga with live music in the CFA Great Hall.

yoga with live music in the CFA Great Hall.

Tartan Community Day Schedule

Tartan Food Truck Fest
Various locations
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Grab your complimentary lunch outside of the Cohon University Center or Tepper Business School and head to one of the various outdoor tents to enjoy! Food truck options include Main Squeeze Food Truck, Vagabond Tacos, Billu's Indian Grill, Revival Chili, Halal PGH, Cousins Maine Lobster, La Palapa, Jim and Benny's Chicken Shack, PGH Crepes, Mr. Bulgogi, and more!

Choose Your Own Tartan Adventure
Various locations
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

This is your day to use how you need it most, so choose your own adventure! Whether you’re a thrill seeker, yogi or artist, there will be something for everyone. Check out the list of activities.

Alex Sheen speaking"Because I said I would. The importance of a promise."
Featuring keynote speaker Alex Sheen
Simmons Auditorium, Tepper Building
2 – 3 p.m. Registration is required.  

Be inspired in person by humanitarian and five-time TEDxTalk speaker Alex Sheen.

Designing Rituals for Joy and Connection
Rangos, Cohon University Center
3:30 – 5 p.m. Event has limited in-person capacity, so advance registration is required.

Learn about the power of rituals to help with transitions, burnout and community-building.

Love and Information
4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

"Love and Information" is a non-narrative play featuring over 60 scenes, each with unique characters and storylines. Like flipping through channels on a television, this play offers brief glances into the mundane as characters navigate love and loss, grapple with ever-present surveillance, and come to terms with their lack of control. Churchill’s play celebrates human connection while constantly questioning what it means to have access to another person’s love and information.

Tartan Turn It Up: Homecoming Dance
Wiegand Gym, Cohon University Center
8-10 p.m.

Whether you want to dance the night away or prefer to hang out with friends, there is something for everyone, including photo booth, henna artist, snacks, refreshments and more to be announced. This is a student-only event.