AU’s Semester Shutdown Provides Stress Relief for Students Before Finals Week

Semester Shutdown Therapy Dog

December 16, 2021

Written by University Writer Keeley Meier '20


Semester Shutdown TullySemester Shutdown is an annual tradition on Augustana’s campus that celebrates the end of a semester and provides stress-relieving activities for students prior to final exams. After last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19, this year’s shutdown was met with excitement.

Coordinated by the Office of Student Affairs, the Saturday, Dec. 11 Semester Shutdown featured more than 20 activities for students to participate in before final exams began. The shutdown began at 3 p.m., with Students Affairs making gingerbread houses and tours of the construction site of AU’s new south residence hall. All events wrapped up just after midnight with a student favorite: Moonlight Breakfast, followed by bingo in the Ordal Dining Hall. Most activities were held in the Morrison Commons — in the Back Alley, Student Street, The Huddle and Siverson Lounge. 

“One of the things we focus on is for students to not feel like they have to be there for a long period of time, but to take study breaks throughout the afternoon and evening and pop in at quick activities throughout the whole building,” said Kally Jorgensen, assistant director of Student Affairs. 

Semester Shutdown AU Gingerbread HousesActivities ranged from therapy dogs, yoga, letter writing and floor curling to zumba, cookie decorating and casino games. Among other student favorites were tunnel tours with the Augustana Student Association (ASA), escape rooms with The Center for Western Studies and a pottery smash with Encompass Humanity.

Maddy Deetz ‘23 is in her fourth year of AU’s 4+1 Master of Professional Accountancy program and said Semester Shutdown was a welcome, much-needed break from studying for finals. 

“Sometimes, during finals week, the only thing I can think about is my exams so getting out of my room or the library and doing something active is a great distraction for me,” Deetz said. “I was definitely sad it was canceled last year because I had to find my own ways to distract myself from studying.”

Semester Shutdown PancakesAlong with community groups and university offices, Saturday’s activities were hosted by 12 student organizations, allowing them to share their mission with fellow students and explore different ways they can provide for the campus.

“It really gets their name out there and allows them to collaborate with other organizations,” Jorgensen said. “They’re also providing something fun for students to do, and it's usually the last event they host for the semester.”

Jorgensen said Student Affairs incorporates multiple facets of relaxation into the shutdown — encouraging relaxation of the mind, body and spirit with a candlelight worship service at the Chapel of Reconciliation. Students also got the chance to enter a lottery for free massages provided by Sioux Falls Therapeutic Massage & Education Center. 

Deetz, a Sioux Falls native, said, before coming to Augustana, she had no idea what finals week in college might look like, but that she’s glad she has a few extra semesters to enjoy Semester Shutdown.

Semester Shutdown Archeology"With my first semester of graduate level courses almost under my belt, I know I will be eager for Semester Shutdown my next three semesters when I'm taking all graduate level courses,” said Deetz. “I would encourage every student at Augie to take part — at least the bingo and pancakes.”

With prizes like AU gear, bluetooth speakers, Fitbit watches, cameras and TVs, the Moonlight Breakfast and bingo remained the best-attended events of Semester Shutdown.

“It’s by far my favorite activity of Semester Shutdown, and it has been since my first year. There's never a bad time for some good breakfast, and bingo creates a light-hearted environment where you can socialize while trying to win cool prizes. Although, I have now gone two-and-a-half years without winning,” Deetz said, laughing. 

To learn more about AU’s Semester Shutdown, visit

Media Inquiries: Contact Jill Wilson, public relations & communications strategist.

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