The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new set of challenges for events on campus. Despite these new challenges, the Student Organization for University Programming (SOUP) has managed to host a variety of both in-person and virtual events.
Senior Stephanie Meyer, co-president of SOUP, feels that the pandemic has made it difficult to form a sense of community at Lawrence. Because of this, she and other members of SOUP have been taking measures to combat the difficulties caused by COVID-19.
SOUP has been working with the administration to ensure safety as a priority at each event. Additionally, they have created a virtual aspect to every in-person event to ensure that students off-campus aren’t excluded from participating in these events.
SOUP members utilized technology and creativity to host a variety of events last term — from comedians to the Pumpkin Festival. Meyer stated that she feels it is important for people to still be able to meet other members of the Lawrence community — a key goal for SOUP events.
Meyer believes that SOUP learned a lot last term about virtual events and is hoping to make their virtual activities more interactive this term. For example, today, Jan. 15, SOUP is hosting a Virtual Murder Mystery event from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Students will have the chance to work in groups to solve a murder mystery. They are always looking for more people to come to their events, according to Meyer.
SOUP is currently in the process of planning more events for Winter Term. Meyer wants to assure the Lawrence community that the Winter Carnival will still be happening with changes to ensure COVID-safety. Also, a sort of matchmaking event for students to meet new friends is in the works for February.
Junior Sabrina Salas and treasurer of SOUP explained that COVID-19 guidelines have affected every event this year. Although they are able to hold some in-person events, such as hosting comedians and singers in the Warch Campus Center, social-distancing and face masks are required. A concern for Salas is ensuring the President’s Ball is held this year.
“We’ll have to come up with a plan to accommodate for [the] President’s Ball because this tradition is arguably a Lawrence favorite, and I can’t imagine how low spirits everyone would feel if some version of it didn’t happen,” Salas said.
Meyer reinforced the importance of SOUP events by stating that these events give her a reason to leave her dorm room amid the pandemic. “SOUP has given me a purpose during this time,” Meyer said.
Salas agreed with Meyer’s sentiment. Salas stated that one of the most important things about being involved in SOUP is the opportunity to create a sense of community in a pandemic. For Salas, the possibility of bringing first-year students together through their events is very rewarding.