William Jewell College’s College Union Activities (CUA) and Student Life office intend to provide student support. The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated this pursuit, as many CUA events are in-person, large gatherings.
Kristin Wooldridge, director of student engagement, described the challenges CUA has faced due to COVID-19.
“The biggest issue is gathering larger groups safely. In a normal year, popular events like CUAt the Movies have over 375 attendees that take over the B&B Northland Theatre. That is not possible right now. To have events that are safe enough and not being a superspreader due to crowd size is an ongoing conversation,” said Wooldridge.
At the beginning of the semester, CUA hosted more in-person events but are now focusing on what they can do to support students.
“During the opening of campus, CUA hosted Grocery Bingo outside on the Quad, Twilight Yoga and a concert on Greene Field. CUA has shifted to focusing on what is possible to bring joy to the student experience. Starting the first Friday in October, there has been a food truck for students from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. This is a great avenue for students to enjoy free food and keep their distance safely. Plus, the food vendors are watching all the safety protocols. Food trucks are planned through November 13th,” Wooldridge said.
“One event has been canceled and we still have a credit with our trivia vendor,” Wooldridge continued. “That was canceled with the campus changed to level C during Orientation. Trivia was supposed to be hosted on Greene Field. Our Trivia DJ is now able to host virtual trivia and that might be scheduled in early November.”
Wooldridge described how student organizations have worked to host meetings and events.
“Many student organizations have been creative with meeting outside and with masks/social distance inside,” said Wooldridge. “They are working well with their advisors to make sure events are safe.”
Wooldridge explained that CUA is doing the best it can given the current circumstances and restrictions.
“When we can host more events in person, we will. I believe that people are created for community, and it has been hard not to provide more options. By partnering with [residence life], student [organizations] and Greek Life, we are finding new ways to have smaller sized events that can be safe for the community and follow [Operation Safe Campus] protocols,” said Wooldridge.
Students have primarily missed having CUAt the movies – a typically popular event. Wooldridge described how she’s tried to update CUA’s approach and accommodate the desire for movies.
“I have upgraded and replaced CUA’s inflatable screen and projector to make it easier to host movie nights. CUA also covers the $350 movie licensing that is required to host a movie inside or outside for up to 100 students. I work with our contact at SWANK to make this happen as many times as possible. Of course, Missouri weather can greatly [affect] outdoor movie nights and we have had to reschedule a couple.”
Wooldridge concluded by describing CUA’s plans for the future.
“We hope to host the trivia night virtually and plan for spring semester since we have the food trucks leading up until Thanksgiving Break when the campus goes fully virtual,” said Wooldridge.