PULLMAN, Wash. — Cougar Pride Days on the Washington State University campus in Pullman do not officially begin until March 26, but students in the Speech and Hearing Sciences department got an early start.

Cougar Pride Days is an annual university event, marked by clean up and beautification projects involving WSU faculty, staff, students and volunteers. Typical jobs range from building clean up to litter removal and gardening on the campus and in the surrounding communities. This year the event spans from March 26 through April 5.

“We just decided it needed to be done, and we didn’t want to wait,” said Becky Keifer, a fourth-year SHS major from Pullman and one of the cleanup organizers. “We made a list of projects and started inviting people.” The plan, along with the promise of a potluck luncheon, worked. Twenty-five students from the department turned out to help, including SHS majors, post-baccalaureate students, and even students not yet declared as majors. “The turn out amazed us all,” said department chair Gail Chermak. “It’s a tight- knit group,” she added.

The list of projects at the SHS offices in Daggy Hall the first weekend of March was lengthy and varied. The waiting room of the clinic got a makeover. A worn lime green bench was reupholstered and students created a children’s play section. The volunteers switched the older ‘70s-style waiting room furniture with better quality furniture from the students’ lounge upstairs. Throughout the clinic, students covered ten plain bulletin boards with bright, attractive fabric donated for the project.

Then there was scrubbing. From clinic offices to the student workroom, computer lab and patient observation rooms, nearly every surface of every room was cleaned. “It took three people more than an hour just to haul out all of the garbage bags,” Keifer said.

Throughout the SHS area, professional-looking signs and boards have replaced dozens of typed and handwritten notes, which visually littered walls and doors. “After we were done we just sat down and admired it all,” said Rauna Ruhser, a fourth-year SHS major from Yakima who helped plan the event.

With the addition of a couple of lamps purchased by the department, “the clinic waiting room now has the professional look of a doctor’s office,” Chermak said.