Students arriving to campus for the new semester are usually met with loads of on-campus events to attend throughout the first week. This semester, social distancing guidelines mean no athletics, concerts, tabling or other campus events which would result in large congregations of students. In an attempt to keep the school spirit alive and get students excited for the new year, Binghamton University faculty members are attempting to hold on-campus events that are as safe as possible while still allowing students to enjoy campus life.
Aug. 28, was the first Green Day Friday of the academic year. This is usually celebrated with a fashion show displaying the new clothes from the bookstore on models. Instead of giving up for the semester altogether, Pete Nardone, general manager of the University Union, decided to rework certain events in a way that allows students to simultaneously attend while following guidelines to ensure students’ safety.
Nardone explained how this year, the fashion show’s live models were replaced with mannequins, which were symbolically placed six feet apart. In the possible event of one attendee testing positive for the coronavirus, students scanned QR codes for attendance and contact-tracing. Hand sanitizer was also provided, and Nardone and his coworkers consistently sanitized the tables and materials.
“We want to find ways with to connect our students with each other through engagement opportunities,” Nardone said. “So, [we] identified events throughout the course of this semester that we thought were great opportunities for students to get together during the week and on weekends.”
The event was held on the Marketplace Fireplace Patio outside of the University Union and students remained distant from one another, while continuing to wear masks as they grabbed their free cookies, frisbees, bracelets and stickers and watched the BU Dance Team perform.
While the BU Dance Team usually performs at every basketball game and Homecoming, this event may have been its only performance of the semester due to cancellations of all athletic events. Cassidy Sayres, a senior majoring in biology on the team, wore a custom black and green team mask as she spoke about how practices, tryouts and performances are going to work for them this semester.
“We are doing everything virtually,” Sayres said. “We are conducting tryouts on Zoom. All of our practices, until we get further notice, will be on Zoom as well.”
Kaylee Harmon, member of the Dance Team and a sophomore majoring in nursing, lives on campus and explained how on-campus events such as this one are a great way to get outside of dorm rooms, have fun and see fellow students safely. She also expressed concerns she had before arriving to campus and continuing athletics.
“I was a little nervous at first because it was up in the air for us with athletics whether we were going to be able to perform and do our normal practices,” Harmon said. “But we figured out a way to do it safely distanced and all virtual.”
Amberly Khan, a freshman majoring in political science, felt that on-campus events such as this one were executed safely by the University. She explained that she was able to snag some free gifts and a cookie while remaining at a safe distance from other students who all wore masks.
“I think one of the reasons why I was comfortable about coming on campus is because I saw so many strict measures being implemented from [BU], and I feel like they’re doing a really great job,” Khan said.
The event drew students who were curious about the music blasting on the patio, mannequins spread out along the tables and the tempting smell of Insomnia Cookies. Although it may not be the same as the usual on-campus events at the beginning of the year, Sayres believes BU is attempting to ensure students’ safety while allowing them to have an outlet for fun, demonstrate school spirit and socialize.
“I think as long as everybody follows social distancing guidelines, wears a mask and is being safe about it, I think it’s good to have events that still keep the school spirit alive,” Sayres said.