Mia Katz/Staff Photographer Students pet a therapy dog at the E.W. Heier Teaching Greenhouse.

With finals week quickly approaching, Binghamton University students are entering the most stressful time of the semester. But while studying for exams, they can take advantage of free snacks, extended study hours and overnight parking.

These perks, along with various de-stress events around campus, are part of “Stress-Free Spring,” a 17-day-long initiative coordinated by BU’s Dean of Students Office. It is designed to provide students with interesting, engaging and stress-reducing activities before and during finals week. Jennifer Keegin, the associate director for campus activities, wrote in an email that the initiative began in 2012 as a month-long de-stress event and has grown into a campus-wide campaign with various partners.

“President Stenger was very interested in helping build an initiative to help with student stress in the fall,” Keegin wrote. “So the first De-stress December was started via the Dean of Students. Then it expanded to the spring and now it’s a campaign that all departments and offices on campus can be a part of.”

Over the next several weeks, some resident and retail dining locations, along with the libraries, will be offering extended hours in the days leading up to finals, providing more study spaces for students. Overnight parking restrictions have also been lifted from April 30 to May 16, allowing any commuter or resident with a valid parking pass to park in any unpaid lot overnight, as long as the car is removed before 6 a.m. the following day.

Students running low on their meal plan can also take advantage of free food. A treat schedule, posted outside of dining locations, lists complimentary snacks and drinks available to students during the initiative.

Additionally, students can participate in de-stress activities, including movie screenings, therapy dogs and exercise sessions.

Cindy Blackman, assistant director of marketing for the Dean of Students Office and Residential Life, is in charge of overseeing the initiative. Blackman wrote that the de-stress activities are planned by different offices on campus. Once an event is planned, organizers can email the Dean of Students Office to add their events to the “Stress-Free Spring” calendar.

“We’re hoping our students take advantage of these many options to study but also take breaks and have some fun,” Blackman wrote. “I see first-hand how just petting a dog makes them smile and relax, so I think it’s working. We’re usually lucky enough to get some good weather too.”

Maham Mallick, a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience, said she took a break from working on a paper to attended “Plants and Paws,” an event hosted by the E.W. Heier Teaching & Research Greenhouse and the department of biological studies on May 1.

“We just came back from writing a 15-page paper, so we took a break and came here,” Mallick said. “It definitely takes your mind off the finals.”

Alex Field, a senior majoring in economics, attended Late Nite Binghamton’s de-stress night. Field said he stopped by after finishing work on campus and made a stress ball before catching his bus.

“Finals season is crazy,” Field said. “Tea and YouTube are my usual de-stressor[s], but there are tons of fun ways to relax on campus and [they keep] me sane.”

With events continuing until May 15, students can look forward to more opportunities to de-stress, including chair massages at the University Downtown Center on Thursday, complimentary coffee at Jazzman’s Library Tower Cafe on Friday and free group fitness classes at the East Gym from May 7 to May 15. The full list of events is available on the BU website.