BY KATE ALMQUIST firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the most important aspects of student life on campus is attending events with classmates and peers, but this semester has looked a little different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Physical distancing, an increased number of online classes and limited capacity guidelines have made it difficult to hold campus events in a normal manner. However, organizations such as Dragon Entertainment Group and First Year Programs have made sure there are still ways to stay involved and connected to the campus community — no matter where students are this fall.
Dragon Entertainment Group, MSUM’s primary student organization for planning campus events and activities, typically plans 60 to 70 events every academic year. They’ve continued to plan semester-by-semester and currently have 23 events scheduled for the fall.
“The belief we’ve been operating under is that as long as students are paying fees, they should get the service they paid for,” Becky Boyle Jones, advisor for Dragon Entertainment Group, said.
The organization only had to cancel one event due to strict regulations — the Halloween dance, which typically takes place in the CMU Ballroom. They have modified events in a way that makes it safe for everyone involved.
The group moved a live concert by singer, Grayson DeWolfe, from its original location in the CMU Ballroom to the Campus Mall, which allowed students to stay socially distant from one another while still enjoying the show.
They will still hold Grocery Bag Bingo in the CMU Ballroom,but will be split into two separate events to follow capacity guidelines. The Ballroom’s current capacity is 96 people, so they plan to hold the first round at 7 p.m., followed by another at 8:30 p.m. Masks are required at these events.
“We continue to accommodate as guidelines come forward and so far, we’re in a good place,” Jones said, “We’re definitely still providing things for students to do, whether it’s virtual, online, or in-person.”
It’s been especially important to the faculty to help incoming freshmen, who depend on these events and activities to become familiar with the campus and meet their new classmates.
Julia Roland, director of First Year Programs, was determined to make Welcome Week as normal as possible because it’s an important time for students to learn about campus and get settled into their new home.
Roland explained that they required masks at all times, kept students in the same small groups to limit contact with others, and enforced physical distancing guidelines.
“I didn’t know how we were going to get all these freshmen to wear their masks, but they were so great and willing,” Roland said, “We needed to put in more work than usual, but the students deserved that.”
According to Roland, Welcome Week had one of the highest attendance records in recent MSUM history.
“We all needed a little bit of hope that things could feel normal again, and were craving face-to-face interaction,” Roland said, “I think being the first department to hold events back on campus, we set the tone. Doing all of this online wouldn’t have set us up for a good campus experience this year.”
Both Jones and Roland encourage all students to remain active on campus.
“Even if all of your classes are online, I encourage you to do your best to go to events and engage in activities,” Roland said, “It’s such a huge part of the campus community, and feeling connected to campus makes the experience so much better.”