Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Spartan Remix faces challenge online, organizations feeling disconnect

September 15, 2020

There was an air of optimism at Spartan Remix, although it faced lower attendance than past years. Prior to the event, student director Jay Gooden said that despite the altered format, the event would be just like normal, but without food.

Thursday, the multi-cultural welcome event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students had the opportunity to meet with over 90 organizations and attend a virtual show.

Through a platform called Easy Virtual Fair, students could chat with the student organizations through messages. Some organizations also had open Zoom calls.  Although online, Gooden felt that this didn’t hinder the event.

“I was really excited with the attendance,” Gooden said. “I think that it was really good for it being a pandemic and everything being online.”

Rising Black Men, a student organization focused on building brotherhood between Black men across campus, was one of 98 organizations showcased at the event. Member at large Anthony Little-Smith said that he thinks students were able to get a taste of what campus is like through the online event.

But this feeling wasn’t shared by everyone in attendance, some student organizations felt differently. Mixed MSU is an organization dedicated to creating space for students that are multicultural, multiracial or multiethnic. The organization’s vice president, Renna Yang, felt limited by the online format.

“Outreach is our main priority right now, not just to prospective members, but with other clubs,” Yang said. “But it’s really hard to do that because we can’t be in person and people can’t really get a grasp if they enjoy hanging out with the people in our club.”

A similar feeling was shared by DreaMSU President Areeba Nadeem, who said that overall attendance was sparse. DreaMSU works to protect and advocate for the rights of people who are immigrants, undocumented or beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. She acknowledged challenges that may have affected attendance, such as internet access and time differences. She also mentioned a lack of connection among peers.

“[People] simply do not feel connected to the student body this year due to the reduction of face-to-face interactions,” Nadeem said.

Freshman Chabrea Weaver is one of these people feeling a sense of disconnect, but this is a reason that she enjoyed Spartan Remix this year. She’s living on campus, which normally houses roughly 15,000 students. This year, there are only 2,500.

“It was good to connect with people because you’re in your dorm most of the time,” Weaver said. “It’s better to have it online than not have it at all.”

Although attendance was down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gooden said he would have still rather had the event online than tried to make it work in-person.

“Safety is the most important thing, in the summer we were debating having it online or having it in-person, ultimately we made the call to have it online because that was the safest option,” Gooden said. “If I have to sacrifice attendance a little to keep people safe, then that’s what we have to do.”

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