By Maria Rehrig
Assistant News Editor
Each year, KU’s Residence Hall Association normally welcomes new and returning students to campus on the first Saturday of move-in week with fun activities and giveaways. Because of the hard work of the RHA staff and despite COVID-19, this university tradition continued this year, though many changes were necessary.
Motivated to create a welcoming event for students’ first time on campus while maintaining a safe environment, the president of RHA, Sydney Vogt, along with advisor Hannah Hotalen began planning last spring.
The association created a plan for an outdoor space to be used underneath a tent at the DMZ that would be capable of safely accommodating 50 masked students. During the event itself, the staff on duty felt the number should be dropped to 30 to ensure that the 6 foot social distancing guidelines would be met at all times.
They made the judgement call and put the 30-student limit in place on the night of the event.
Hotalen said she and Vogt had to continuously monitor public and school guidelines leading up to the date and made necessary adjustments for the event to happen.
“Things I would have done differently would be to ask for more time in the planning process since there were so many changes daily that it felt like we had to replan the event each day until we finally came out to the final product,” Vogt added.
“We made sure we were as safe as possible,” Hotalen said. “Students were waiting (in line) super graciously and were super awesome about standing 6 feet apart.”
Hotalen also said students who participated made sure to follow the regulations including wearing face masks. Only students who wore masks were permitted to enter the event space.
Students were given their own spoons to participate in creating neon sand art and there was a bin system used to give students free t-shirt giveaways. The bins were wiped down and sanitized after each gift transfer.
Kamelle Copeland, a KU student and representative for student government, acknowledged the effort put in by the staff but said there were a few things she would have changed about the event. She noticed some of the students in the line were not following these guidelines. She said lines inside the tent seemed to be adhering to guidelines, but the line to get into the event was confusing,
“For the t-shirt giveaways, numbers could have been called out (over a microphone) so people could stay close by but do their own thing and not have to wait in a line,” Copeland said. “But this was their first event and it acted as their guinea pig to show them what to do and what not to do.”
Copeland said the school only ever puts on events with the students in mind and did their best throwing together an event in the middle of a pandemic.
In the future, Vogt recommended that organizations have specific time slots for people to sign up and come at their designated time to cut down on the number of people.