‘Precautionary, but inviting and fun’: SAB events adapt to social distancing

Haley Simpkins

The Student Activities Board hosts some of the most popular events on UK’s campus. This year is no different, even with social distancing guidelines in place.

“[SAB is] working closely with the Emergency Operations Center and the Office of University Events to ensure we are in consistent compliance with the event and safety guidelines put in place by the University,” said Matthew Luce, SAB’S SAB Vice President of Promotions.

Luce said some of the precautions SAB is taking include required masks, physical distancing, staggered arrival times, contactless attendance tracking and regular sanitation of event spaces. Luce also said SAB is looking for ways to creatively enforce and help attendees understand physical distancing, beyond the usual signage that they will have posted.

“At a recent SAB event, Movie on the Lawn, attendees were provided physically distanced, pre-placed blankets in which only one attendee was permitted to sit on each blanket and were not allowed to move the blanket,” Luce said.

Luce said one of SAB’s biggest events of the year, Campus Ruckus, served as a successful example of how SAB plans to operate under these guidelines.

With the entire freshman class invited to participate, Campus Ruckus usually has at least a few thousand participants, and the same applied to this year but with extra precautions, Luce said.

“At Campus Ruckus, approximately 2800 students attended within the 5-hour event window. Students attended during assigned appointment times with their K Teams. Once arriving with K Teams, students had a 30-minute appointment window to engage with the registered student organizations and get a Ruckus t-shirt,” Luce said.

Campus Ruckus was held in Kroger Field concourse with lots of space available for attendees to physically distance and a virtual option for those who weren’t comfortable attending. However, large attendance capacity may not always be the case with future events, Luce said.

“Depending on the venue and location, we may have to cap attendees at some of our in-person events to ensure physical distancing, but we hope to offer plenty of alternate opportunities for people to engage both in-person and virtually,” Luce said.

Most previous and upcoming in-person SAB events show outside locations such as Memorial Hall amphitheater or Barker Hall by the Student Center.

Olivia Caldwell, a senior elementary education major, attended an in-person SAB event where participants tie-dyed masks and t-shirts to take home. Caldwell said there was a long line for the event, but SAB had placed numerous physical distancing markers on the ground and SAB workers monitored the lines to keep students properly distanced. Caldwell also said masks were required, as well as gloves, but she was unsure if that was for sanitation purposes or just to protect the hands from dye.

“Overall, I felt very safe throughout the event, and I would attend another event in person,” Caldwell said. “The atmosphere was slightly different than at events prior to the pandemic but not in a negative way. The atmosphere felt precautionary but still inviting and fun.”

The only in-person event currently listed for SAB on BBNvolved is a plate smash scheduled for Sept. 4.

SAB is also known for hosting large events with celebrity speakers. Luce said this is still a possibility for this fall, but of course in a virtual setting.

“We are working on a potential virtual speaker for this fall. We do not have any details we can release at this time, but we’re excited to keep working on it,” Luce said.

Luce said SAB understands some students may not be comfortable with attending in-person events in the midst of the pandemic, so they are also offering other hybrid and virtual events in addition to in-person ones.

Virtual events will take place completely online through a program like Zoom whereas hybrid events will involve participants physically picking up supplies at the SAB office or a designated pickup located to later use during a remote event, Luce said.

Virtual BINGO, one of SAB’s most regular virtual events, takes place every Wednesday on Zoom. Students can request BINGO cards using their UKY email and participate to win prizes each week.

Amber Garrison, junior elementary education major, attended SAB’s weekly virtual BINGO event. Garrison said she heard about the event from some friends and decided to check it out for herself. Garrison also said the possibility of winning a prize such as blankets, UK gear and board games was an added bonus on top of her already positive experience.

While Garrison did attend a virtual event, she said she is open to attending SAB’s in-person events as well.

“I know the extent that the university has gone through to protect their students, and I know any in-person event would follow the correct guidelines to keep everyone safe,” Garrison said.

Garrison said she respects and appreciates SAB’s decision to adhere to these safety guidelines for in-person events but also appreciates the fact that SAB is offering virtual options.

“They could have easily canceled every event, but I’m so glad that they have chosen to provide students with fun and safe events to attend,” Garrison said. “I absolutely plan on attending future SAB events, andI can’t wait to attend virtual Bingo again! Hopefully this time I’ll actually win something!”

Luce said students who attend any SAB event either virtual or in-person can provide feedback on their experience by rating the event on BBNvolved and replying to a post-event email sent to their linkblue email address.

To find a list of upcoming SAB events, check out @ukysab on social media, visit uksab.org and check BBNvolved.