Pandemic planning: How event coordinators are dealing with COVID-19 on campus
Blaney Hall on Open House day this fall.
Photo courtesy of Cedar Crest College
Campus events are happening come hell or highwater, and organizers are committed to two things: fun, and your safety.
Whether it be BINGO or an Open House, in-person or virtual, events on campus have looked different for everyone. Kara Brownlie, Student Activities Board president, says that student engagement is still of major importance this semester, especially for freshmen. That’s why SAB has hosted events for students on-line, like a Disney Jeopardy night, and in person so that everyone can get involved at their own comfort level.
“We’ve transitioned to doing more things online and virtually, and we are trying to do things socially distanced and outside,” Brownlie said when talking about SAB events. “Our events are a bit less community based which sucks because Student Activities Board is about bringing the community together, but that’s where our virtual events come together, like the virtual BINGO which was done on a Teams call, so people can interact that way.”
Cedar Crest is also known for allowing large community engagement, but that has also looked different. Brenna Zimpfer, interim director of recruitment in the office of admissions, helps to plan and coordinate Open Houses for prospective students and their families to come visit and tour the campus. Safety has always been the number one concern in admissions, and it’s especially important this year.
“We work with prospective high school students, so we have to think about how we still provide them with a Cedar Crest worthy experience in a way that meets the guidelines, that’s exciting, and that gets them everything they want in a visit, but is still keeping them and our campus community safe,” Zimpfer explained. “The last thing we want to do is bring prospective students to campus, to our community, our family, and put our students in danger… This is why we always have two ambassadors on tour, to really ensure that they are the ones opening doors, eliminating the amount of touch points that we have, and reminding guests to abide by our guidelines.”
While some students have spoken out with suggestions and complaints, organizers find them to be very helpful and use them to improve their events to make them safer and more fun at the same time. Many students have used the Cedar Crest app to air out complaints, however organizers have gained more from hearing directly from students themselves.
“We really appreciate feedback whether it’s negative or positive,” Brownlie stated. “It kind of helps us gage if we are doing something wrong or doing something right…Even if it’s not the most positive thing, it’s still going to be helpful, and positive feedback helps to reinforce that we are doing a good thing for the community. We also love suggestions. It’s hard to come up with new events every week, so we like to hear what students want to see.”
Events have taken a new shape this year, but that doesn’t stop the fun. Event planners have been working tirelessly to ensure safety here on campus and have been working their “creative juices” as Zimpfer would say.
Looking ahead there are several admissions events for the month of October, and SAB has some fun events to surprise students with.