Case Day: love it, hate it, are ambivalent toward it; participate in it or not, you probably know it.
For the unaware, Case Day is a non-school-sactioned CSB/SJU tradition (albeit a tradition which is widely disapproved of by the administration) in which participants attempt to drink a case of beer (24 cans) in a 24 hour period. But where did Case Day come from? When did it start?
Case Day is actually not an exclusive event to CSB/SJU.Actor Paul Newman once said in a speech,
“24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not.”
Taken up as a rallying cry by college students, his alma mater, Kenyon College of Ohio instituted “Newman Day,” where they attempt to fulfil the mission that Newman’s guiding words set down. This tradition has been traced back to 1976 at Kenyon College, although it quickly spread to other universities, where CSB/SJU joins the ranks of Harvard, Princeton and the University of Virginia, among others.
But when did it arrive at CSB/SJU?
The answer is complicated.
A search of the CSB/SJU archives and website reveal very little information about Case Day. The earliest mention I was able to find was in The Record, dating from March 18, 1999.
Editor Cherene Powell wrote about the event, referring to it as “CSB/SJU’s first annual Case Day.” The event, as Powell described, actually involved drinking the 24 beers in 12 hours, in contrast to the traditional 24.
It originated from a mysterious email list, sent out by a Johnnie who identified himself as “Mr. Case Day.” In his emails, Mr. Case Day described the event, claiming “the motivation behind Case Day is not to turn people into alcoholics, but rather to present a change in habit for the already lushes at CSB/SJU. At first it seems like another excuse to get drunk, but there’s unity involved.”
The article spurred a series of responses in the opinion section of The Record, even eliciting comments from the Student Senate and administration. From there, Case Day can be tracked fairly consistently. By 2001, opinion sections referred to Case Day as “infamous”. Case Day, it seems, has always been controversial.
Discussions with alums from the ‘80s and early ‘90s reveal that Case Day might have had a much longer and deeper history than the documentation shows, with many of them having vivid memories of witnessing or participating in Case Day while they were students here. Conversations I’ve had with faculty members reveal rumors of its existence even in the 1970s, shortly after its origin in Paul Newman’s Speech.
Case Day’s absence from The Record is noticeable for such a time-span, but given the condemnation from the administration, calling The Record “irresponsible” for promoting Case Day by giving them a platform, maybe it is understandable. There is, of course, also the possibility it operated at a smaller scale than it does now and did not merit reporting.
Whatever the case may be, if you’ll pardon the pun, one thing is clear, Case Day has been here a long time, and it seems to be here to stay.