A Smashing Good Time

By Ashley Smith

Youngstown State University’s Anthropology Colloquium is holding a plate smashing event — where students can write their frustrations on plates and smash them — on April 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in front of DeBartolo Hall.

Matt O’Mansky — an associate professor in the department of sociology, anthropology, and gerontology — said the week before finals is a good time for the event.

“We hold the event late in the spring semester when we will have good weather so that many people will pass by and, hopefully, participate. We also hold it at the end of the semester because that’s the time of year when exams are approaching and papers are due so people are anxious and frustrated. Smashing plates on which you’ve written your frustrations is a great way to relieve stress,” O’Mansky said.

The event originated with an experiment concerning plate smashing conducted by John White, a retired professor at YSU.

“John did historical archaeology and often found pieces of broken plates in his excavations. He designed a project wherein student volunteers would drop plates onto a floor marked with a grid pattern. Plates were dropped flat from waist height and then the volunteer would document how many pieces the plate broke into and where the pieces ended up,” O’Mansky said.

White intended to use the data to calculate how many plates were represented by the fragments he found during digs, but there were too many variables present.

“For example, even two of the exact same plates dropped the same way from the same height will break in different ways — different numbers of pieces, different stopping points for the fragments, etc. Therefore, the project was abandoned. Sadly, John passed away in the summer of 2009, and we were left with thousands of plates,” Dr. O’Mansky said.

White’s daughter decided what to do with them.

“After John passed away, his daughter, Katherine White, began raising money to establish the John R. White Scholarship in Anthropology. It is a scholarship for Anthropology majors and preference is given to those focusing on archaeology. Because Katherine was working to build an endowment for the scholarship and because John had collected the plates, the first plate smashing benefited the scholarship fund,” O’Mansky said.

Jessica Morris, a senior anthropology major, said proceeds of this year’s event will benefit the Anthropology Colloquim.

“We hold this event to raise money for our Archaeology Month speaker which happens in October. … We have had lectures on Bahamian Archaeology and Guatemalan Archaeology,” Morris said.

Students and faculty alike have enjoyed this event in previous years.

“There were some especially eager faculty members who participated during the SB5 vote a few years ago,” O’Mansky said. “I remember that the very first person to participate back in 2011 wrote ‘rent, bills and…’ I can’t remember the third thing. Other people have written the names of ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, classes in which they have exams or papers due, etc.”

Anyone is welcome and encouraged to attend the event.