Students at CCAD to step away from screens for Unplugged Day on Feb. 13

Jan 31, 2019
CCAD Student Government launched Unplugged Day

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Students, faculty, and staff at Columbus College of Art & Design in Ohio are putting down their phones for a 24-hour student-led initiative called Unplugged Day.

On Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, students, faculty, and staff at CCAD will be encouraged to give their bodies a break from their devices. (That means no emails, no texts, and no posting on social.)

The idea for Unplugged Day came about after the CCAD Student Government Association reviewed the results of a 2018 CCAD student survey showing that 89% of students spend at least 3 hours on their electronic devices a day and 29% of students said they never, rarely, or only sometimes interact with people in person versus online on a typical day.

“This isn’t about saying you’re a bad person because you’re on social media,” says Mickenzie Willars, a senior studying Advertising & Graphic Design and President of CCAD’s Student Government Association. “It’s about making time to take a step back and realize maybe too much screen time makes you feel exhausted or maybe it’s taking a toll on your mental health.”

So, in fall 2018, Willars pitched Unplugged Day to CCAD Vice President for Student Affairs Chris Mundell, who embraced the concept.

Mundell had seen numbers from a recent Healthy Minds Study and noticed a 10% increase in depression among CCAD students, which lined up with a nationwide trend that researcher and author Jean Twenge connects to smartphone usage in her September 2017 Atlantic article, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

“At Columbus College of Art & Design, we’re working to build a culture of healthy creativity—and Unplugged Day seemed like a perfect fit in our overall efforts to support CCAD student wellness,” Mundell said. “The day is intended to help the campus community refocus, gain clarity without the distraction of devices, and explore how connectivity affects mental health and wellness.”

So, on Unplugged Day, the CCAD Student Government Association is planning several interactive events on campus, including a sort of analog version of Facebook, where students, staff, and faculty will be encouraged to “post on the wall” with pens and sticky notes. Other activities will include a valentine-making station ahead of Feb. 14 and a succulent-planting station.

“We timed Unplugged Day to a point in the semester when students tend to get stressed out and overwhelmed,” Willars says. “So, we want to provide space for students to take a break, put down their phones, and talk to each other.”

The college plans to survey faculty, staff, and students about results of the day without screen time, and CCAD’s senior administration will attend a roundtable discussion hosted by the Student Government Association after the event.

“We’re eager to learn how the day will impact our community at Columbus College of Art & Design,” says Mundell. “And we’re open to ideas of how Unplugged Day can change our culture in the long term. Because that’s what artists and designers do. They change culture.”

About Columbus College of Art & Design

Columbus College of Art & Design teaches undergraduate and graduate students in the midst of a thriving creative community in Columbus, Ohio. Founded in 1879, CCAD is one of the oldest private, nonprofit art and design colleges in the United States, and in 2019, the college is celebrating 140 years of creative excellence. CCAD offers 12 BFA programs and two master’s programs in art and design that produce graduates equipped to shape culture and business at the highest level. For more information, visit


Above: The CCAD Student Government Association, pictured here, are asking all students, faculty, and staff at Columbus College of Art & Design to avoid texting, email, and social media for Unplugged Day on Feb. 13, 2019. Photo by Ty Wright for Columbus College of Art & Design. 

Additional high-res photos are available upon request.

Media contact

Jeannie Nuss
Director of Public Relations 

[email protected]