Student organizations’ in-person events successful

By Donald Halsing

Editor-in-Chief

By Kathleen Moore

Associate Editor

Attendance at events hosted by student organizations is up from previous years, according to Sara Gallegos, director of Student Involvement and Leadership Development (SILD).

She said attendance at individual events this semester increased compared to event attendance before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gallegos added more students are hosting events compared to last academic year, when the COVID-19 pandemic restricted the types of events organizations could host. 

She said hosting events this year is “a lot easier” because social distancing and room capacity restrictions have been reduced. However, Gallegos said allowing in-person events requires her to put “a lot of trust into our student groups who are running the events” that they are enforcing mask wearing.

Gallegos said this semester began “a little slow” because many student groups needed to “restructure and rebuild” before planning events. But throughout October, Gallegos has “been seeing more events up and going.”

She said the calendar in SILD’s office has been filling up with events submitted by student organizations, which have been approved.

Tanisha Jean, publicity coordinator of Framingham State Activities Board (FSAB), said the group’s recent events – both on and off campus – have been successful.

“FSAB [has] hosted a lot of events so far, such as Bingo, a succulent event, and a movie night. I personally co-hosted the Black and Gold Beginnings Bingo and it was very successful,” she said.

Jean added attendance at FSAB’s events has been good, and tickets for off-campus events quickly sold out.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual events were “hard to have,” but students could still “bring amazing energy” to these events, according to Jean.

Emily Rosenberg, outreach and events coordinator of Student Government Association (SGA), said over 100 students attended each of two events: a movie night on Miles Bibb Lawn showing “The Avengers,” and a raffle for a smart TV held in the McCarthy Center lobby.

Rosenberg said SGA’s secretary made an Instagram post to help advertise the raffle. The movie night was promoted through the RAMpage app.

She said the movie night was part of Black and Gold Beginnings, and was promoted and run by Orientation Leaders. SGA helped pay for blankets that were distributed during the event.

Rosenberg said “it’s a little difficult” to plan campus-wide events because SGA ran remotely last year, and new members are “still learning the ropes.” She added SGA is planning more events, including some for the Week of Kindness Nov. 22 and 23.

Kelsey Behrikis, marketing coordinator of Christian Fellowship, said 20 to 25 people attended each of their events: pumpkin painting, “Just Dance,” “Yard Game Olympics,” and Ultimate Frisbee.

She said her group uses flyers, social media, Presence, and their regular “Free Coffee in the McCarthy Center Lobby” to spread the word about events. Most events included prizes – such as branded hoodies or AirPods – or items students could take home with them, as well as individually wrapped snacks and beverages.

“We have tried our best to do events outside because of the mask policies,” Behrikis said, adding it can be hard to understand what people are saying when they need to wear masks indoors. She said her organization is using the Digital ID app to track attendees, but it “can be hard at bigger events to account for everyone.”

Behrikis said Christan Fellowship will host a “Minute to Win It” game and make “Operation Christmas Child Boxes” during November.

Carly Eiten, FSU Dance Team’s publicist, said events have had “a very good turnout.”

The team has had two main events so far – the Back to School Stretch and a Saturday Morning Stretch. According to Eiten, the Back to School Stretch had 30 participants, and the Saturday Morning Stretch had 10. She said, “both events went well.

“We were more limited during the 2020 [Academic Year] than this year. Last year, we were required to wear masks, we could not touch each other in dances, we had a limited maximum capacity, and we could not hold our showcase in person,” Eiten added. “We did not host a lot of events last year, and most events we did host were held virtually or hybrid.”

She added the Dance Team uses Google Forms to track attendance.

Eiten said, “The week of Nov. 8, FSU Dance Team will be holding Week of the Arts, which is when different art-related events take place throughout the week. Some events we are planning include a master dance class with a guest choreographer, a photography contest, and a showcase where we will be featuring artistic students, clubs, and organizations, including FSU’s Fusion Team.”

Caitlyn Davis, publicity chair of Hilltop Players, said approximately 55 people attended one of two Suit Jacket Posse improv shows. “I think students are excited to be back on campus and want to attend events this semester!”

She said Hilltop also hosted a social and auditions for their upcoming shows. “We have had great attendance,” Davis added.

Last year, Hilltop held most of its events virtually, but this year, they are able to host events and shows in person. Davis said masks are required and social distancing is encouraged during performances and events. 

According to Davis, Hilltop members use the Digital ID app to check in students for contact-tracing purposes. They also record contact information for visitors who are not part of the FSU community.

“COVID-19 has changed the ways we host events, but we are happy to be able to adapt and overcome the challenge with our FSU community,” she added.

Davis said next week, Hilltop will host a Halloween Suit Jacket Posse improv show and “costume contest with a prize.” More shows for their “Clue” play will follow in November, and “Fall Cabaret” and a karaoke night in December.

Comic Book Club President Ryan Feinblatt said the club’s primary method of advertising events is to “collaborate with other organizations to get involved in campus events.”

He added the club’s most popular event last semester was an online panel with Rob Paulson, and many students and faculty were satisfied with the event. 

Comic Book Club’s next event will be a trip to Rhode Island Comic Con Nov. 6.

The History Club is planning a trip to Salem, Massachusetts, and is anticipating having more events on campus.

Vice President Manny Miranda-Ordonez is “very excited to have planned this event!”

Social Media Coordinator Jamie Mills said the club advertises “through our Instagram page, email list, and word of mouth.”

Treasurer PJ Pharmer is hoping for more attendance at upcoming club meetings and events. Meetings are Fridays at 1 p.m., according to Pharmer.

President Jordan Porter said, “The History Club is for anyone and everyone, even if history isn’t something you’re interested in – it’s just a place to come and meet new people.”

Pride Alliance President Christie Jean said about nine to 10 people have been attending in-person meetings, and two to three people have been attending over Zoom.

She said, “We usually post on our Instagram and are in the process of posting on Ramlink as well.”

Jean added in-person events are better than Zoom events, “because we can meet face-to-face, but when we were over Zoom, it was not the same. Since it was over a screen, there was a bit of a disconnect and did not spark the same emotions.”

Pride Alliance recently hosted a tie-dye event in the Center for Inclusive Excellence, and is planning an upcoming fundraiser event, according to Jean.

In addition to events run by student organizations, Campus Engagement – a part of the Dean of Students Office – also hosts events for the FSU community.

Rachel Lucking, assistant dean of campus engagement, said events they have hosted have also been well attended, including programming for Black and Gold Beginnings as well as Homecoming and Family Weekend.

“As we have moved into the fall, we’ve turned even more attention to reestablishing community connections,” she said.

Lucking said Campus Engagement has planned more events for the remainder of the semester, including a movie night, dodgeball tournament, and “PASTA-tively Free” – a free pasta dinner – to round out October.

Gallegos said many student organizations have begun planning events for the spring semester.

She added overnight trips are not being allowed this semester, but overnight trips for next semester will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Gallegos said many student organizations offer raffles or trivia games during their regular meetings even though they don’t host other events.

She suggested students who are not members of any organizations should “go check them out at their meetings because you never know what they’re actually doing. They could be doing fun stuff.”

[Editor’s note: Emily Rosenberg is an Arts & Features Editor for The Gatepost]