The coronavirus pandemic has forced many people on campus to get creative and find new ways to operate, especially for groups like the University Program Council who typically organize well-known campus events such as Lagniappe Day and Pajama Bowling.
According to UPC Entertainment Director Addison Ceasar, UPC is still figuring out which events they can do face-to-face and which events must be held online, and said students can probably expect there to be less events this semester.
“We're still like trying our best to do as many events like normally we would, whether it's going to be some virtual events or whether it's going to be in-person events and stuff like that,” Ceasar said.
Events that are planned to be in-person, such as pep rallies, will all be socially distanced. UPC President Myri Campbell said she felt the restrictions were necessary, but are likely going to negatively impact the feel of face-to-face UPC events.
“It is going to be very, very weird and we're trying our best to make it as normal as possible. But with these new rules, it is extremely hard, but we have to follow the rules,” Campbell said.
There’s been a decline in student involvement with UPC since the outbreak started, Campbell said.
“The attendance at our meetings declined a lot. And I don't know if it was just because it was something new for us, or if it was just that people weren’t interested in attending virtual meetings,” she said.
In response, UPC is trying to find new ways to entice their members to participate this semester, she said.
“We looked at it and thought of fun ways to change what we do at our meetings and bring some new and fun ideas to the thought of virtual meetings. So hopefully those things will help with our attendance,” she said.
Currently UPC’s entertainment committee has their events scheduled, and they are currently planning to have as many events as they normally do provided nothing goes wrong, Ceasar said.
UPC is planning to bring back some traditional UL Lafayette events like Pajama Bowling, where students go bowling in their pajamas as the name implies, and Movie Madness, where students get together for a movie night several times during the semester.
UPC is about 80% sure Pajama Bowling will still happen, but they still need to see what Lafayette Lanes’ COVID-19 protocols are, Ceasar said.
UPC is also planning to invite hypnotist Chris Jones back to campus for a performance this semester, he said.
Campbell said this was the event she was most excited for this semester.
“I'm really excited for the hypnotist just because I saw the show last year, and I loved it so much. And I know that the students really love that one,” she said.
UPC held a virtual event titled Campus Canvas on Friday, Aug. 13, where UPC members and first-time freshmen painted together and discussed their experience transitioning to college during a pandemic via Zoom.
While only 10 guests attended, only one guest left early and Brooke Frost, a nursing major, said she enjoyed it.
“It is really fun! It is nice being able to talk with current students and listen to their advice as well as experiences,” Frost said in a direct message over Zoom.
Ceasar said the turnout wasn’t quite what he had hoped for, but he said he thinks this was due to UPC scheduling the event so soon after the students moved in.
“I'm not really sure, but I feel like move-in day really affected the turnout for that event, but, hopefully, throughout the semester everything picks back up now that everybody's getting back on campus seeing these flyers, seeing these yard signs and seeing all of our social media posts as well,” he said.
UPC Vice President Tyler Batiste said this year will present a challenge for UPC, but he’s confident they will still be able to offer exciting events for students this semester. In a way, COVID-19 forced UPC to get more creative with their events, Batiste said.
“Nobody would have ever thought of doing these types of things if it wasn’t for COVID in a way, so, again, it gave us a new outlook on programming,” he said.