Capri Scarcelli | A&E Editor
Carrying on tradition, Duquesne replicated its annual “Night of Lights” Christmas celebration with SGA Fall Festival: a sweet send-off for Thanksgiving (and winter) break, carefully following CDC policies throughout the event.
Hosted by the Student Government Association (SGA) and partnered with Residence Life, Parkhurst Dining and Commuter Affairs, the event took place both virtually and in Duquesne’s residence halls as opposed to Academic Walk to ensure social distance protocols.
SGA Student Committee Chair Jamie Becker, a third-year in the physician assistant program and Vice President of Student Life Janelle Gans, a junior speech pathology major, were the main coordinators of this event. According to Becker, the two were “responsible for planning and executing both food and activity components and communicating with other university staff/organizations to make it all possible.”
“Originally, the Fall Festival was going to be a singular event held on A-Walk. We had to modify our plans by moving this singular event to eight different locations … including the commuter affair lounge, so students would be able to stay socially distant,” Becker said. “We ensured that Parkhurst was able to individually-wrap and pre-package all of the food … [so] individuals could take it to their rooms and eat it with their ‘pod’ members … we also made our activities completely virtual.”
According to Campus Link, a free, on-the-go meal was provided through Parkhurst starting at 5 p.m. to ring in the festivities; this included hot chocolate and apple cider, cranberry glazed chicken, red roasted potatoes, steamed vegetables and pumpkin cream cheese rolls. This was on a first-come, first-serve basis, as supplies were limited.
“In order to plan the event, we first had to communicate with Parkhurst catering. David Fortunato from Parkhurst was extremely helpful with assisting us to curate our own special Fall Festival menu; he and his chef came up with some great food and drink options to fit our theme,” Becker said. “We also contacted the Office of Residence Life to figure out how many students were living in each building, so we could order and deliver food proportionally.”
Additionally, Gans said SGA had to “get creative” with organizing virtual activities that would be enjoyable for students, eventually deciding on Thanksgiving trivia and a coloring contest that were held on Zoom at 7:30 p.m. Prizes such as Starbucks gift cards were given to the winners of both contests.
“With everything going on in the world today we wanted to hold a fun, yet safe event for students to participate in prior to heading home for break,” Gans said.
Third-place trivia winner Kaitlin Dodd, an education major, said the contest provided 29 questions for participants to answer, with an even mix of random Thanksgiving trivia, riddles and jokes.
“My favorite joke of all time happens to be ‘April showers bring May flowers … What do Mayflowers bring? Pilgrims!” Dodd said. “I liked how they put jokes in there because not everyone knows the history of Thanksgiving, so it gave students a better chance.”
SGA President Kallie Crawford, a third-year law student, said that this event was organized with a “stay-in” approach.
“Since Residence Life already had CDC COVID policies and procedures in place at each of the residence halls, it was easy to tailor the event to happen simultaneously at each residence hall to bring the fun to the students. Additionally, thanks to our partnership with Parkhurst, they were able to ensure that all the meals provided during the event also followed [these policies],” Crawford said. “SGA wanted to ensure that all students, not just residence students, could participate in the event, so we also partnered with Commuter Affairs to offer meals to commuter students during lunch.”
Sophomore music major Noelle Micklow said the Fall Festival meal was “delicious … a 10/10.”
Historically, SGA has also hosted a “Fall into Finals” event during Reading Day, which offered students a reprieve from the stress of preparing for the end of the semester. According to Crawford, this Fall Festival combines the “Night of Lights” and “Fall into Finals” into one event, offering the same transition into our now virtual finals week, too.
“With all finals being administered remotely this year, SGA has once again pivoted to ensure that we are supporting our students’ mental health by giving them a fun break over the finals season,” Crawford said.
“I think it was nice that the SGA held an event to close out the semester,” Dodd said. “They did a great job considering the circumstances [of the pandemic], and I appreciate the effort they’ve gone through this semester to create programs like this for us.”
“Anything that we can do for our students that provides them with a moment of fun and a break from school is always a good event,” Crawford said. “Especially during [this time], where many students are feeling tired and run down from the marathon of this semester.”
Over break, students can participate in virtual yoga sessions, according to Crawford. Approaching the spring 2020 semester, she said that SGA is working on more fun events for students to look forward to.
“I wanted to share my gratitude to all of the people who made Fall Festival possible … especially considering this was the first event of its kind … Although this wasn’t as elaborate a send-off as our usual ‘Night of Lights’ event, I think that this was as big of an event that could be held given the circumstances, and it provided a bit of joy for students as they start to head home for Thanksgiving,” Becker said. “I know that this is an extremely stressful time, so I hope that we were able to create a more positive atmosphere for everyone.”
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