ASW events at Westminster College may not look the same as they were in previous years, as Salt Lake City safety guidelines limit the number of people able to gather at one time to slow the spread of COVID-19.
However, the ASW Events team said they would be experimenting with hybrid events, implementing both in-person and virtual elements.
“We are planning on doing a lot of hybrid events, ideally,” said Isaac Landau, ASW events president. “Hybrid events are going to be the main focus.”
Whether an event is in-person or virtual depends on the parameters of the event itself. Landau said he and his team decided what setting each event is best suited for.
“ASW Events understands that there still is some apprehension among the student body to engage in person,” Landau said. “So we believe that having a hybrid event will help make students feel encouraged to attend the events we have planned.”
This falls in line with the state COVID-19 guidelines, which limits large gatherings of people to 50 people in the yellow level of restriction — which Salt Lake City transitioned to Friday.
ASW has already experimented with hybrid events, live-streaming the Welcome Back Concert on Facebook during orientation week Aug. 20. The concert featured a local band, The Salt Lake City Funk Collective: Dangus Kong.
The video garnered over 530 views and reached 900 people.
“To me, that is really impressive,” Landau said. “I want to do similar things to that. It was very successful.”
Landau compared the virtual turnout to the in-person concerts of previous years — noting there have never been crowds of 500 people in attendance.
The ASW Clubs Fair, another start-of-the-year event, also made the move to virtual attendance. Although ASW Events did not sponsor the Club Fair, it was one of the first ASW functions of the school year to happen digitally.
“We didn’t get the amount of students that we wanted but you have to keep in mind that this is the first time we were doing [the] Clubs Fair virtually,” said Clubs President Dwain Worrell.
Even though the attendance was lower than he anticipated, Worrell said it was still successful in connecting students.
“The setup was good, and we were able to connect some students with some clubs,” he said.
The success of the Welcome Back concert and Clubs Fair may mean other campus groups will look toward virtual events — as some students said they are apprehensive about attending in-person events.
“ASW Events understands that there still is some apprehension among the student body to engage in person.”
Although he didn’t attend the concert or the Clubs Fair, Matt Kitzman, a junior finance major, said he would be interested in attending a future virtual ASW event this school year.
“I would attend a virtual event even though it is a little harder to get to know people,” Kitzman said. “But I would definitely be interested in it.”
However, Kitzman said that he would hold off on attending an in-person function for now.
Erin MacInnis, a junior communication major, has attended ASW events in the past. However, she said she has not attended any yet this semester.
“I don’t know if I would attend an in-person event just because there is COVID happening,” MacInnis said. “But if everyone is socially distanced I would go.”
Planning events in a pandemic caused ASW Events to consider outside factors such as physical distancing, limits on group sizes and budgets.
Their budget depends on student fees paid at the beginning of each year, meaning the ASW budget is dictated by the number of students attending Westminster.
“The add/drop date was [August 26] so we haven’t really seen what the actual budget is going to be,” said Events President Isaac Landau. “So in a couple of days, we’ll know.”
The 2019-20 ASW Student Board allocated 37% of its budget to Events. However, it’s unclear how much of this year’s budget will go toward Events as ASW has not released its most recent budget to The Forum.
“Events are happening and we are working on them,” Landau said. “This year is just going to be new.”