Mary Harrison, staff writer
After a year of hybrid meetings, cultural events are back in-person at Berry for the 2021-2022 school year. Only a select amount of events will offer a remote option for students, most venues will accommodate for social distancing precautions for students who feel hesitant about mingling in large crowds.
Catherine Borer, secretary of the Cultural Events Committee said that the committee is not requiring event hosts to offer remote participation options this year.
“Because of the pandemic and all the different things going on last year, every cultural event was required to have a virtual option,” Borer explained. “This year we discussed it, and since classes are no longer required to have a remote option, we opted to have the same philosophical approach to cultural events. So if, a host of a cultural event would like to have a remote option, or if it lends itself really well to having a remote option, that’s totally up to the host of the event.”
At the time of publication, Kris Carlisle, chair of the Cultural Events Committee, said there are around 15 events already approved for Cultural Events (CE) credit this school year. Two of those will offer remote participation. New events are added monthly as the committee approves them.
Upcoming cultural events are announced in weekly emails sent out by Carlisle, and a Zoom link will be listed if the event offers remote participation. A full calendar of CE credit opportunities is also accessible on the Berry Events app or on the Berry Connect website at berry.presence.io.
Attendance at remote events will have the same protocol as last year, where students will have to fill out an online form confirming their attendance. Additionally, the Zoom log for the event will record how long the student watched the event and determine if they get credit.
Students should use the Zoom account connected to their Berry email account to join remote cultural events, Borer emphasized, to ensure they get credit for their attendance.
According to Carlisle, it is undetermined as to whether or not special accommodations will be made for seniors who are behind on cultural events credits, but do not feel comfortable around large crowds.
“I certainly don’t think seniors will have a problem getting their cultural events taken care of,” Carlisle said.
However, the chairman said the venues offer something for everyone. Mitigation measures for some events already scheduled include mask mandates, and being held in outdoor venues or large, open spaces like the Krannert ballroom.
According to Carlisle, for those who are hesitant to resume attending cultural events as normal, there are spaces availble that accomidate for people’s personal preferences. Because students have the option to choose which events they would like to attend, they will be able to factor location into that decision as well.
“I understand people’s reticence, but if they shop around a little bit and find the places where it’s an open space, there’s a lot of places there,” Carlisle said.
Some students are confident that getting CE credits would not be an issue for them and most of their peers.
“At this moment I do feel comfortable going to cultural events in person, but that is only because of the ‘Berry Bubble’ and the fact that I have been vaccinated,” sophomore Veronica Killeffer said. “I feel that we as a community are a lot safer in terms of COVID, so I feel comfortable so long as it’s still relatively socially distanced and safe.”
Junior Ruthie Smith believes that the college should continue to offer remote options for their cultural events for the accessibility of students.
“I think either way [in-person or remote] there’s going to be those people who just are there for the credit, not there to listen or care, so I think that’s inevitable,” Smith said. “But I think for the circumstances we’re in right now, that’s the best option for us. Also, it still allows that sense of freedom, that choice of whether to go or not so it’s not that restricting.”
Smith is comfortable with the way things are.
“I don’t think it will ever be exactly how it was when I was a freshman, but I feel like this is a really good middle ground that they’ve reached,” the junior concluded.
Borer agreed that the comfort of participants is key.
“Everybody needs to think about their own comfort level and think about what works and makes sense for them,” Borer said. “But I think there are lots of different types of cultural events, and hopefully everybody can find something that works for them.”
Berry’s Cultural Events Committee has not yet officially met this school year, according to Borer, but members have been discussing proposals via email. Their first regular, monthly meeting will be next week. The committee evaluates proposals that have been submitted by event hosts on the CE website.