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Editor’s Note: This story was written by Cassandra Sepp.

Limited student activity options this semester has led the Student Activities Committee (SAC) to implement virtual bingo and trivia nights.

Due to COVID-19 guidelines canceling the largely attended bingo and trivia nights offered in previous semesters, SAC has been offering these events through Zoom.

According to James “Twigz” McGuire, the coordinator of R.I.S.E., and Jillian Alekna, the SAC on campus events chair, trivia and bingo nights are the most popular student activities on campus. “I think bingo is probably the biggest hit, just because it’s kind of easy, you don’t have to put a lot of thought into it,” Alekna said.

McGuire said involvement in the events has been down since they have been made virtual. He believes the low attendance is due to students being “Zoom fatigued.” Many students have online classes this semester and also attend virtual events. McGuire feels students are sick of looking at screens all the time.

SAC has tried to use incentives and prizes to get more students to attend, said McGuire. Belle Fortner has won a fuzzy blanket, a small stuffed animal, a Mini Mouse waffle maker, and a Disney cookbook this year. SAC also tries to get students to come for their own benefit, said McGuire. “Some of these events are just good in themselves,” he said. “Participating in the life of the community is a real good thing.”

Another reason that may be to blame for the low numbers is students missing the feeling and atmosphere of the previous in-person version of the events. Fortner said, “In-person events are a lot more interactive with other students and online is more of an individual activity.” She said that she missed seeing people have fun.

Alekna said she missed the feedback she received on the events when they were in-person. She said that when bingo was in-person there was both verbal feedback and nonverbal feedback, but she doesn’t get that through Zoom. Alekna ran the 2000s themed trivia this semester and couldn’t tell if students were having a good time. “When I’m on Zoom doing trivia, it is kind of hard to tell how people are feeling because they have their cameras off,” she said. Fortner complemented the SAC leaders, saying, “They do a good job making sure people that are participating are having a good time and they try making it feel as normal as possible.”

The virtual events also have qualities students enjoy. McGuire said that the virtual events allow students who live off-campus, out of state, or who are nervous about COVID-19 the opportunity to attend. Fortner said she felt the virtual events are more easily accessible and that it was nice when it was freezing out to participate from the comfort of her own room.

Alekna said that, specifically with bingo, some students prefer the virtual version. Online, students don’t have to try and run to the front of the room to get there first, she said. Fortner agreed, explaining that even though running up is fun it can be too crowded at times, so online feels less stressful.

The virtual version of trivia and bingo are also the only way these events can happen. “Being able to actually still have some form of event is probably my favorite part,” said Alekna.

If students have ideas or additional feedback for SAC on how to better improve virtual events, they are encouraged to contact either a SAC member or McGuire.

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