By Carter Otelle 

HSSC– Sarah Filignepecci, class of ‘24, remembers the first time she heard about Working Differently days.

“I was walking to Saints Rest,” she recalls, “when my friend opened their phone and read out an email Anne Harris sent. And there it was: the announcement that next semester, we’d have three days with no scheduled activities.” Felignepecci has had a steady presence throughout her interview, but at this point, she falters. “I thought they were useless, honestly. Like, couldn’t you just, you know, assign less work? It just felt like an excuse for admin to say they’d done something for student mental health without putting in any actual work—okay, maybe it is. But that’s not what I care about anymore.” 

Leading up to the first Working Differently day, she explains, she was optimistic— perhaps even enthusiastic. She welcomed the rare opportunity to relax. Despite her initial skepticism, she found herself counting down the days. However, in short order, three events darkened her outlook.

First, Ms. Felignepecci’s Spanish professor assigned a six-page essay due at 1:00 AM the Tuesday morning after the Working Differently day. She also learned that her four hour chemistry lab still took place at 8:00 AM on the Working Differently Day. And finally, she received a survey question asking about her plans for the day.

“I went down the list,” she says, “and I checked the little boxes for the things I wanted to do: homework, exercise, spend time with friends, and so on. I had all these big aspirations about how I was going to spend those precious few hours of freedom taking care of myself and having fun, you know? So when I got to the box labeled with something about sexual activity, so I thought, sure. Why not? And I clicked it.”

“But then,” she continues, “it didn’t happen. Like, not even close. I tried hitting on a cute guy working at the Grill…I think he misheard me because when I asked if he had plans for tonight, he just dumped extra extra chia seeds in my smoothie. It was like half chia seed.” 

 The second Working Differently Day, taking place on March 1, was similarly unsuccessful for Felignepecci. “I decided it would work out this time,” she says. “I just needed to put myself out there and show off a little. But that didn’t help either.” She refuses to elaborate on the details, but refers to Tuesday’s events as “the chewing gum incident,” and the large, sticky, roughly-cut hole in her hair may provide an answer.

Felignepecci’s experience is not unique. The B&S acquired exclusive access to the survey data and found that over 53% of respondents selected the “engage in sexual activity” option before the first Working Differently day. But data from the survey sent out after the second Working Differently day show that less than 15% of students actually performed such behaviors.

Still, Ms. Felignepecci remains undeterred. “Third time’s the charm,” she says, a glint in her eyes. “This time, I know it’ll work out. Differently.”