This Halloween was supposed to be one of the books. It fell on a Saturday, had a full moon and had Daylight Savings at 2 a.m., meaning students were to have an extra hour of Halloween festivities. Of course, the current COVID-19 pandemic had other plans, and since these once normal gatherings are now considered unsafe, in many ways, this Halloween was not the one college students were hoping for.
Off campus, many upperclassmen flocked to upstate New York for a weekend away from the oversight of the University, or more specifically, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. A handful of juniors and seniors rented cabins and homes in Hudson Valley, N.Y. for a weekend of bonfires and costume parties.
On campus, Halloweekend provided many events through the Community First Committee, including a club-driven Tent or Treat and 21+ Boo’s and Brews.
Assistant Dean of Students Nicholas Tumolo discussed how this past weekend was weeks in the making. Since late September, Community First has held events at the Riley Ellipse, including live music, fire pits and food trucks to get students outside in a safe way.
These events have had considerable success, with many students venturing outside for these nights with their friends. That’s when administrators knew they needed to think ahead to Halloween, since it is a historic weekend for students to go to parties — something that is considered high risk behavior in a pandemic that is fueled by close contact.
Tumolo highlighted the recognition of the critical nature of this past weekend, and how even though students and faculty are a few weeks from the end of the semester, that the situation on campus could change quickly. This is especially true if students were looking for something to do and were not able to find something on campus, so they decided to proceed to off-campus events.
These Community First-sponsored events sought to engage as many students as possible and give them something fun to do with their friends. Some of the favorites included the Tent or Treat and Boo! Palooza, the a cappella and dance event.
Tumolo was amazed by how many organizations on campus wanted to get involved and was so excited that the entire campus was able to be utilized for it. In many ways, this was the first event that has been able to engage everyone at once because of how widespread it was.
Dean of Students Tom DeMarco’s favorite event, Boo! Palooza, was many of the musical groups’ first opportunity to perform since February.
Regarding off-campus gatherings, Dean Tumolo was happy thus far with how the weekend went, as far as reports. It will take a few more days to get a real picture of how the weekend took shape.
Many students took advantage of the events on campus over the weekend, so having that option made it an easier decision for students to stay on campus. Correspondence from the school to off-campus residents leading up to the weekend encouraged everyone to put community first, especially this weekend.
While it is unknown if the University will increase testing following Halloween weekend, Tumolo and DeMarco highlighted how there is still time to continue to make safe decisions on campus.
Community First will have events in conjunction with Special Olympics Fall Fest this weekend, including a roller skating rink on Saturday. While Fall Fest will look differently this year with its total virtual format, there will still be outdoor events in which students can partake. Tumolo and DeMarcho also hope there is an opportunity for an early holiday celebration, since the community will not be together for the holiday season like usual.