By MOLLY AVERY
Every Friday, between class changes, at Woodard Hall a whistle goes off. For people new to campus, this may cause panic, but to others, it’s the highlight of their day. As the whistle blows, the cheering begins. From Simpson Library all the way to the spirit rock, you can hear someone yell “It’s Friday!” at high volume into a bullhorn.
Dora Whiting is the woman behind this. Multiple times on Fridays, normally during class changes, Whiting takes her bullhorn and whistle outside to celebrate the fact that it’s almost the weekend. She’s been working at UMW in food service for 22 years, and she still comes to work each day with a smile on her face. She is full of light, and rich in happiness. Whiting motivates students by shouting out words of encouragement such as “You made it!”, “Happy Friday!”, and “You did it!” Along with the encouraging words, high fives and occasional hug, students always seem to leave the area smiling brighter than they were.
Fifteen years ago she started this ritual, creating a beloved UMW tradition, although the story behind it isn’t as happy as one might expect. Whiting’s son, not even 18 yet at the time, was sent to Iraq as soon as he graduated high school.
“It was a bad time for us,” Whiting said, “I just was sad, and everyday he was gone I would cry, because I wasn’t there for him, so instead of me crying, I just pulled out my whistle one day. It took this burden off of me and from that day on I’ve been blowing my whistle.”
It appears that Whiting has also taken a burden off of others’ shoulders too. Many students consider Whiting’s weekly praise to be the highlight of their week.
Sophomore Carleigh Boland passes her every Friday at around one in the afternoon. “I really like her,” Boland said. “It makes my day whenever I hear her say ‘it’s Friday!’”
Sophomore Sophia Daly said, “She’s super consistent about screaming Friday and making everyone’s day a whole lot better.”
Despite her good intentions, Whiting has given quite a few students a scare before. Senior Jessica Bergquist said that the first time she heard it “I honestly thought the world was ending. I’m jumpy, so it always startled me but then people would like ‘woo’ back at her which is how I knew everything was fine.”
Although Mekayla Thompson, a sophomore, adores Whiting and everything she does to help students, she said, “Bullhorns drive me bananas, so I could live without that.”
Even with the occasional scare, students still adore Whiting and her whistle. For some students, Whiting brings hope. Sophomore Colette Fralen said, “I can’t help but smile everytime I hear her, because her cheering is like a mini celebration that we’ve made it through another week.”
“I love what she does on Fridays. It’s a nice reminder that I made it through the week, and I will make it through the next one.” said sophomore Allie Wills.
Whiting isn’t just a light on Fridays though, throughout the entire week she can be found spreading joy. Students can be seen laughing with her in line as they pay for their food, and leaving with grins on their faces. “Whenever I go to Simply to Go to grab lunch she’s always really sweet and super friendly to me, and always tells me to have a good day,” Wills said.
“I like the one-on-one conversations with Dora, she’s super caring,” said Thompson.
Dora Whiting is a gift to this campus, a treasure that we do not deserve. No matter what’s happening she’s always serving with a smile. No complaints, just a wish that everyone has a blessed day.