Students smash car to destress from academia

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Photo by Jordan Anders-Mcclain.

With the spring semester coming to an end, many students across UNLV’s campus are stressed about confronting finals week. 

To alleviate the stress, students gathered in Pida Plaza at Rebel Event Boards ‘Spring Out Of Stress’ event to eat Raising Canes and tacos, play arcade games, tie-dye shirts, and make a decorative succulent plant. But the biggest attraction of the night was students letting out their stress by smashing a car. 

“My favorite part during this event was watching as the car got more and more destroyed throughout the night, especially when attendees took the door off the car with a hammer,” said Jillian Hooker, a Rebel Events Board member. “I think this event was a great way for students to forget about everything for a few hours. I personally was drowning in homework this last week and hitting the car with a sledgehammer just helped me relax in a way that I needed,” said Hooker. 

The star of the main event was a towed Ford Escort which was at the end of its life from a nearby junkyard. The car was placed on the stage of UNLV’s Alumni Amphitheater surrounded by metal gates and a light for students to see what they are smashing. Students stood tirelessly in a long line just to get 30 seconds each to smash the car.

Students were required to sign a waiver and while other students smashed parts of the car. In line, a few made goals to take off certain sections of the vehicle. During the smashing frenzie, students cheered each other on. 

To get involved in the festivities, students checked in with their digital Involvement Center pass and lined up to either eat Raising Canes or tacos. 

An hour into the event, there were no longer any Canes boxes left, but still plenty of tacos that were being taken by students that arrived later. 

The Rebel Events Board said this was one of their largest turnouts they’ve seen so far during the school year, welcoming in around one hundred students. 

Outside of eating and smashing a car, students were able to play arcade games, build a succulent terrarium, and tie-dye a shirt. Instead of a promised velcro wall, coordinators stated that it was too large and instead replaced the idea with having an interactive Futuristic Arena. The inflatable dome featured two chambers with 10 lights each, and 45 second games that tested how quickly participants could hit targets. 

Vanessa Aponte, a psychology student at UNLV states that she found the event to be fun and interactive but potentially contradictory to actually destressing. Aponte says that there is some research to support the idea that destructive therapy is useful in destressing and that it is more formally referred to as the Catharsis Theory of Aggression.

 “Even though this theory has been debunked as a myth, I think it’s still okay to try out these destructive activities as long as you understand that it could ultimately increase your anger,” Aponte said. “If people are intrigued by destroying a car, go for it! But do it with good company so it becomes a fun memory, and maybe even compliment it with something more soothing like meditation afterwards.”

The American Institute of Stress says that stress is “an epidemic among college students” and that eight in 10 college students experience “frequent stress” during the week of finals. With UNLV’s finals fast approaching, the university has recently distributed a number of resources publicly for students to take advantage of. 
Currently the UNLV Support Team works to assist students who are distressed in conjunction with Student Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Students in need of urgent services can contact CAPS at (702) 895-3627 for a same-day consultation Monday through Thursday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and Fridays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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