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Morgan State students discuss hopes for in-person events as COVID-19 rules lessen

Photo credit: CharNae Brown with The MSU Spokesman

Students celebrate a return to campus culture after a year filled with fluctuating restrictions.

Jah’I Selassie, Staff Writer for The MSU Spokesman

Morgan State University student organizations have withstood ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions during this academic year.

Students reunited in-person at the start of the fall semester after almost a year and a half of virtual instruction, and enjoyed attending carnivals, homecoming festivities, and other university events.

However, the Office of Student Affairs announced in January that the campus would return to virtual campus activities. Students were left to attend virtual events to remain involved in campus life.

In the beginning of March, students and student organizations were presented with another change.

On March 4, Danny Molock, assistant coordinator for the office of student life, sent an email to student organizations stating that the university plans to transition back to in-person events in phases.

Phase one, which began Jan. 24, restricted recreational events, except for basketball games, to virtual platforms.

The university is now in phase two, spanning from Feb. 14 to Mar 20. This phase allows student organizations to host tabling and restricted in-person events, and allows the Campus Activities Board to host larger scale restricted events.

As a result of these revised restrictions, students now look forward to new possibilities for future events.

Michelle Spann, a freshman political science major, remembers fall semester events as being inclusive, memorable experiences.

“Last semester they [student organizations] were giving out shaved ice, I was taking pictures, [the event] was on the USC patio,” said Spann.

“They [event hosts] were playing music and the thing that I liked about it was that they played all different types of music, they’ll play Caribbean music, they’ll play drill music, they’ll start playing gospel music, R&B all of that.”

As spring approaches, Spann hopes to see more outdoor events from student organizations, such as cookouts or battle of the dorms.

While Spann frequently attends events held by other organizations, she has seen a decline in attendance at her own organization’s [Black Girls Vote] virtual events.

“We had a cultural Kahoot game that, had it been in person as opposed to online, a lot more people would have come out,” she said. “Because sometimes these events, it feels like it’s just the people that are in these orgs coming and not just people around campus,” Spann said.

Cherise Castello, a sophomore political science major and African studies minor, said she is excited for the future of campus events, especially in warm weather.

“[I hope organizations] do something outdoors like probably even doing 1 a.m. outdoor concert again because I do wonder for homecoming, it could have probably been more fun outside,” Castello said.

Like many students, Castello had many ideas for more music-centered events, such as a “Verzuz” battle event that would pit one artist’s music against another artist’s music in a party setting.

“During COVID them Verzuz battles and stuff like that blew up, with different genres like you got your Jill Scott, your R&B, your Hip-Hop. I think that would be pretty dope”, she said.

Castello hopes freshmen join in on these festivities because they are not as involved as upperclassmen in campus life.

Jaime Lyons, a junior multimedia journalism major and Campus Activities Board Member, encouraged the freshmen class to attend at least one event that interests them.

“At least show your face and get to see how Morgan is. You might like the vibe of the event that you go to, and we have different types of events,” Lyons said.

Lyons said the Campus Activities Board (CAB) often repeats events if they are well received and have a good turnout.

Virtual event requirements hindered the Campus Activities Board’s normal participation numbers the same way it has affected the events attendance of other organizations.

“It doesn’t give the same effect as in person, so when you do have virtual events, the numbers are typically lower, but we still do get some interaction depending on the right promoting tactics,” Lyons said.

Despite COVID-era restrictions, CAB was able to host interactive social media events, including residence hall dance competitions.

CAB frequently promotes upcoming events on their Instagram and Twitter pages to share with students.

“Our main thing is just to make sure that we create a great environment for the student body on campus and give them that great campus HBCU feel with any events that we might have on campus,” Lyon said.

Lyons said that students should be on the lookout for “I Love Morgan Week” posts from CAB’s instagram page.

“I would say look forward to that event. For I Love Morgan Week we do have a concert scheduled. It [I Love Morgan Week] is a spring fest, so it’s kind’ve like a mini-homecoming,” she said.