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‘We planned for these issues’: ASW Events adapts to state COVID restrictions

ASW Events President Isaac Landau gives out free snacks to passing students in the Richer Commons Sept. 24 during the weekly ASW Pop-up Event. Landau said events like these — that attract students asynchronously — won’t be impacted by the governor’s recent statewide directive. (Rian Zetzer)

Under the newly-issued state of emergency from Gov. Gary Herbert, Utahns are restricted from gathering in casual social groups outside their household. However, Westminster College announced Monday its operations have not changed — which extends to ASW’s plans for the rest of the semester. 

ASW-sponsored events will remain largely the same for the duration of the Fall semester, according to Events President Isaac Landau. That’s because events already operate in a stop-and-go capacity, aside from those that are held virtually. 

“There’s not a lot of conglomeration of individuals in one spot,” Landau said. “We’re still providing an experience, it’s just passing by.”

However, the new statewide directives “certainly impact” how the ASW board will conduct its functions moving forward, according to ASW President Obaid Barakzai. Although the student board has already taken steps to ensure safety guidelines throughout the semester, Barakzai said it will shift much of their work online. 

“Moving forward, until the COVID spread gets mitigated immensely, we will do all our meetings and leadership retreats online,” Barakzai said in an email to The Forum. “For our Board Meetings, we usually have been meeting virtually with the possibility of meeting in person sometimes. But with keeping the new mandates in mind, we will shift all our meetings online.”

This includes the upcoming CommUNITY Talk event with President Beth Dobkin, which Barakzai said won’t be impacted or canceled because it was already scheduled as a virtual event. 

Although the new statewide COVID restrictions may disrupt some plans, Landau said it won’t cancel any previously scheduled events. Instead, the Events team will continue its protocols of mask-wearing and social distancing — which it implemented at the beginning of the semester, anticipating future changes during the pandemic. 

“We planned for these issues, sort of,” Landau said. “In terms of operations, has it dramatically changed what we were doing before? No. But it means those issues are more prevalent than they were three weeks ago, but it’s still on our minds.”

For example, ASW will continue to hold its weekly pop-up event in Richer Commons where students can grab snacks and enter raffles for prizes. These happen every Tuesday in a stop-and-go style, which attracts around 80 students who attend asynchronously every week, according to Landau. 

Before in-person events like these are held, Landau said ASW must follow specific directives that adhere to public health precautions. Much of this effort comes from his adviser, Oliver Anderson, who ensures events comply with mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines. 

Other events — like the ASW Paint Night scheduled for Wednesday — are held virtually, allowing students to gather from their own homes. 

Overall, the newly-issued directives from Gov. Herbert won’t impede how ASW Events will carry out the duration of the semester. 

Landau said the events team won’t change “anything significant” — carrying out its planned in-person events up until Nov. 23, when students leave campus for Thanksgiving and aren’t slated to return until after the winter break. 

“That stuff was going to happen regardless,” Landau said in regards to the remaining events for the Fall semester. “[Now], we just need to be more aware of what we’re already aware of.”

It’s unclear how ASW Events will adapt its plans for the Spring semester, but Landau said his team will work on details over the coming break. 

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Cami Mondeaux
Cami Mondeaux is a senior communication major with a minor in sociology. Passionate about journalism, Cami has worked in the field for three years – completing internships at KSL NewsRadio, KUER 90.1 NPR Utah and The Washington Diplomat in Washington, D.C. She now covers breaking news for KSL NewsRadio with a focus on the 2020 election. Cami is excited to bring her skills to The Forum for her second year as editor-in-chief.

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