SPB accommodates remote learning for Welcome Week


Photo credit: Gracen Hoyle

Illustration by Gracen Hoyle

Each year at Trinity is kicked off with the Student Programming Board’s (SPB) Welcome Week events. As with all things, though, the COVID-19 pandemic has heavily impacted this year’s Welcome Week; however, SPB hopes to bring new excitement and community to Trinity with a unique and larger lineup of events for fall 2020.

SPB began planning for this year’s Welcome Week in February, right as the pandemic began to raise alarm. As students and faculty worried about how they were going to finish the semester, SPB had to think ahead to the fall and anticipate what campus would look like in a virtual setting.

“The pandemic hit us kind of hard, if I’m being honest,” said senior Meghan Desai, director of SPB. “We had a lot of ideas in the works and then had to pivot a lot.”

After a summer of changing plans and multiple drafts of what exactly Welcome Week was going to look like, the organization believes that they have settled on a set of events that succeed both in safety and in bringing the Trinity community together. As opposed to previous years that have seen only two or three events, this year’s Welcome Week features seven different events, each ranging from a large group experience to small group settings. This personal level of connection is a new facet of Welcome Week that SPB is looking forward to exploring.

“This virtual setting is allowing us to kind of deep dive into these smaller, more intimate connections,” said Shannon Twumasi, faculty adviser of the Student Programig Board. “We’re hoping that some of these programs will be the catalyst for people interacting with one another.”

SPB is also hoping that the virtual events encourage those who normally wouldn’t attend large Welcome Week events to step outside of their comfort zone.

“For the people who maybe aren’t concert people or aren’t extroverts, now we have different ways of engaging people that we weren’t able to really provide in the past,” Twumasi said.

Even with the many positives that come with a virtual Welcome Week, SPB has inevitably faced many challenges in putting these events together. According to Desai, although there is now an abundance of agencies offering colleges virtual programming, there is more work that must be done to tailor these events to the Trinity community. Desai believes, however, that the thought that other schools across the country are going through the same thing brings some consolation.

“It’s important to recognize that we are not the only school in this predicament. A lot of other schools had to pivot and transition really quickly in providing programs that are accessible from anywhere,” Desai said. “It’s been a challenge but a fun challenge.”

In regards to the concert that many students look forward to every year, SPB was disappointed to report that it has been pushed to the spring semester.

“The concert is something that we always look forward to, but then in March when all this went down, we had to ask ourselves if it was going to happen,” Twumasi said. “We thought we could do it in person but have people spread apart. We thought about doing it virtually. We went through all these options, but we decided it’s best if we just push it to the spring, hopefully when things die down.”

Despite these challenges, SPB is proud of the Welcome Week that they have put together and hope that it can offer students some sense of community in these troubled times. First-year Samantha Sandals is excited about the events for that very reason.

“I think in the beginning, I was a bit sad with all the social distancing, but I’m looking forward to the events,” Sandals said. “It’s the Welcome Week events that kind of push you outside of your comfort zone, and, even though it’s virtual, I think we’re kind of getting lucky. I don’t think they usually do an escape room or murder mysteries.”

SPB hopes to continue virtual events throughout the fall semester and make sure that they are as accessible as possible, especially to those off-campus. The organization also encourages students to provide feedback about Welcome Week or submit ideas for future events.

“We are here to build a community for students right now, so we really want to make sure we are matching what students want,” Twumasi said.