Students reconsider on-campus events

Illustration by Aleah Green

Since March, events worldwide have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some events have returned without crowds, like MLB and NBA games. However, with the fall semester upon us, NAU and SUN Entertainment have yet to announce if on-campus events, like weekly movies at Prochnow Auditorium or Homecoming, are set to take place.

According to SUN Entertainment’s page on the NAU website, there are currently no events scheduled for the semester. The only major event that’s been announced thus far is the virtual Welcome Week concert, which took place Aug. 10.

NAU junior Cedric Gammon attended numerous sporting events and club meetings during prior semesters. However, in regard to COVID-19, Gammon thinks this semester should be approached very carefully. 

“I do not think events should be held on campus,” Gammon said. “I think club events and meetings are examples of possible exemptions.” 

Gammon said, although events could be held in ways that promote social distancing while keeping students involved within the campus community. He thinks promoting smaller clubs this semester could be beneficial to the student body to participate in, instead of large-scale events. 

Although Gammon sees on-campus events as being catalysts for social relationships, he thinks it would be wise to move all events to a virtual setting. 

“We need to recognize that the pandemic punishes instant gratification, so we need to wait it out in a safe manner,” Gammon said.

Gabriela Torres, who is also a junior, participated in open mics during the fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters and attended the Prochnow movie showings. She said her favorite events include Hip-Hop week and the annual spring concert. However, when it comes to events being held this semester, Torres thinks precautions should be taken.

“I think some events could be held but only things where social distancing could be practiced and not too large of a crowd,” Torres said. “Off the top of my head I think Wingo could still happen and Prochnow movies if seating is blocked off.”

Torres also said that the events held on campus add to NAU’s culture by allowing students to feel like they’re a part of the NAU community while allowing them to strengthen connections with their peers.

NAU junior Haylie Koester is a former SUN Entertainment employee. She said she attended most on-campus events held through Prochnow and SUN. When it comes to the pandemic, she thinks any on-campus events planned for both fall and spring semesters can be adapted to allow students to attend. 

“I think that small-scale events could still be held as long as limited numbers are in place, as well as socially distancing,” Koester said. “There could also be the potential of creating reservations for said events and having time in between sessions to sanitize the area, and allowing for a full reset.”

With the possibility of events, like concerts, being moved to virtual formats, Koester said she thinks they can be fun, if developed correctly, and that the difficult part is the lack of community surrounding the virtual setting. She suggested that events like paint night could be held through a virtual format fairly easily, especially if there is a way for students to pick up supplies if they registered for the event.

When it comes to attending potential scheduled events this semester, Gammon said he doesn’t plan on attending any. However Torres and Koester said they will attend some events on campus. 

“I will still attend some events, but if things get too crowded I will probably leave,” Torres said. “For health and safety reasons, I think holding events virtually is a good idea and I would happily attend those.”

Although it’s currently unknown if events will be canceled altogether or moved to a completely online format for the time being, there are still numerous ways in which events can take place safely, as mentioned by the above students.