Bulldogs Joyful Together event celebrates return to campus

A group of organizers come together for a picture during the Bulldogs Joyful Together event on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. (Melina Kazanjian/The Collegian)

An ordinary Wednesday afternoon on campus became “joyful” last week thanks to a collaboration between the Office of the President, the Alegría Mental Health Task Force, the Department of Social Work Education and the Social Work Student Association.

Bulldogs Joyful Together attracted an estimated 1,000 students to the heart of campus with a DJ playing music, free Dutch Bros drinks, free pizza and ice cream, alongside many more organizations tabling and providing information to students.

Last spring, Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, along with various task force members across Fresno State staff and students, created the Alegría Mental Health Task Force as a response to COVID-19’s impact on mental health for the campus community.

The president debuted a brief video about the taskforce in March and said, “I know that we’ve gone through a lot, and I know that it’s been a really difficult year for all of us, but precisely because of that, I really want to bring people together.” 

Bulldogs Joyful Together intended to do just that.

Gabriel Yanez, one of the students who worked on the event, said that the idea for the event came in May, but “boots on the ground planning has been going on since June.”

“It was a part-time summer endeavor for many of us. It took the whole summer, lots of ideas to work through,” said Yanez.

Tasked primarily with outreach, Yanez worked on finding volunteers for a flash mob that broke out in the middle of the celebration. It ended up having 40 participants, including Jiménez-Sandoval, withstanding the heat to celebrate. 

A highlight of the event for him was seeing students sporadically join the celebration, and particularly the dance. 

“That’s what we were shooting for,” Yanez said.

Maria Lopez, a student that attended the event, said, “It’s so fun to finally be on campus. I started online, and I had never been on the campus before. I hope we have more events like this.”

“It makes me proud to be a Bulldog,” said Lopez.

In honor of Alegría’s involvement and the emphasis on mental health, the Student Health and Counseling Center was also present promoting free individual counseling services, free psychiatry services and free suicide prevention training for all students. Their case management program, Project Hope, passed out affirmation cards to students.

“Once Alegría got involved they brought some of their partners, and we were more than happy to have them. They provided ice cream, and pizza, and all that stuff, so it really just made it a better turnout for everyone,” said Yanez of this partnership.

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