By Ashley Ferrence, Staff Writer
As summer seems to be drifting in and out of sight, students are trying to make the best of the crazy weather patterns happening here at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF). Recently, students have been participating in the popular new trend on Facebook called the, “Polar Plunge,” which is normally done to raise money for charity.
The students at UMF call it the, “Sandy Plunge.” They video record themselves jumping into the ice cold water of the Sandy River, post it on Facebook, and then nominate a few of their friends to do it as a challenge. It’s not clear what would happen if one of the nominees refuses to participate, but that seems rare.
Mandy Ledue, a sophomore at UMF, participated in the Sandy Plunge last week on a dreary, cloudy day. She ripped off her sweatshirt and without fear, splashed into the dark water of the Sandy River. She dipped herself completely under water and as she came back up, a huge smile appeared on her face as she clumsily ran back to shore.
Ledue was freezing as she wrapped herself in a towel. “The wind is what really gets you. Since it’s almost May, I didn’t think it would be that cold,” said Ledue. “I don’t even know why I did it, but I have to say, it’s a fun and friendly challenge here on campus. It gives us something to do.”
While half of the population agrees with Ledue’s statement about the plunge being a fun and friendly challenge, the other half is worried about safety hazards, as people are starting to get word of a drowning in New Hampshire recently that was reportedly linked to this new social media trend.
Sophomore Emily Thompson has not been nominated yet for the Sandy Plunge but is certain she wouldn’t participate even if she was. “It could be dangerous,” she said. “I don’t really get the point of it. It’s putting people at risk to drown or become hypothermic because it’s still freezing outside during the cloudy days we’ve been having.”
Some students seem irritated by the fact that their peers are doing the plunge at this time of year because the, “ real Polar Plunge,” challenge is usually done in the winter time. Although, for April weather, it’s been unusually cold.
Sophomore Josh Wynne is intrigued that this trend has continued into the spring months. “The Polar Plunge is typically done at the beginning of the year. I know a lot of my fellow peers are referring to the Polar Plunge as the ‘Sandy Plunge’ because they recognize that it’s not the traditional Polar Plunge,” said Wynne.
Katie McLaughlin, a junior at UMF, has mixed feelings about this new challenge fad. She has been called out to do the plunge, but hasn’t gone through with it yet.“People want to get outside, it’s an excuse to get outside and have fun because we have been cooped up all winter,” said McLaughlin.
Whether it is dangerous or just a friendly challenge, Facebook timelines are completely filled with plunge videos. The “plungers” have more fun calling out their friends to do it on Facebook than actually doing the plunge themselves. This social media trend has caused younger kids, college kids, and middle-aged adults to get up out their seats and into the freezing waters all over New England.