North Texas Daily

University now accepting department, student organization requests to hold in-person events

University now accepting department, student organization requests to hold in-person events

University now accepting department, student organization requests to hold in-person events
October 30
10:45 2020

The university is now accepting requests from both official departments and student organizations to host in-person programs, according to the University Brand Strategy and Communications’ online news digest UNT Today

University departments could offer programs “as early as Tuesday, Oct. 27” according to the UNT Today announcement.

A hybrid committee will review event requests every Monday.  Accepted events will then be forwarded to leaders of all university COVID-19 advisory groups for final approval.

The goal of the committee is to ensure proposed events have proper COVID-19 safety protocols while also promoting student success, Melissa McGuire, committee member and associate vice president for student affairs, said. 

The initial review committee is made up of members from the Student Life Advisory Group and Safety and Incident Management Group. They are joined by a representative from the Student Government Association and DiJai Dowling, who is the chair of the Event Safety Committee and coordinator of student organizations.

“We know that our students have missed the in-person engagement with our departments as much as we have missed providing it,” Senior Communications Strategist Amy Armstrong said via email. “Given where our COVID cases currently stand, we feel it is safe to proceed slowly with safety precautions in place.”

Student organizations will soon be able to host their own in-person events as well. Student leaders were given the ability to submit program requests starting Oct. 16 and will be able to offer face-to-face events starting Nov. 2, Armstrong said.

“If [Eaglethon has] the opportunity to meet safely, I know we all would love to meet in person,” Alexa DeCarlo, Director of Dancer Relations for the Eaglethon fundraising program, said. “I think if there were proper precautions in place, as far as social distancing, cleaning measures, and wearing masks, I would definitely be excited to be able to attend an in-person meeting on campus.”

Events are limited to three locations: the University Union, the Gateway Center and the Pohl Recreation Center. This decision was made so that facility staff can monitor safety protocols and ensure proper cleaning between programs, Armstrong said.

“I think the human element and ability to be face-to-face, albeit [six feet] away, is a huge benefit to in person events,” McGuire said via email. “People need to be able to interact with others in a non-virtual, safe environment. I believe students are craving this right now.”

Proposed events will be evaluated by a variety of criteria, including the insurance of spatial distancing, what cleaning protocols and products will be used and what personal protective equipment will be provided. Attendees will be checked before the event and programs must involve no more than 10 participants.  

Departments that fail to follow proper safety protocols during their events will be referred to the appropriate vice president to handle at their discretion. This may include sending the organization through the university’s disciplinary process, Armstrong said.

“At any time, all opportunities for in-person meetings or programs can be pulled when safety is an issue or there are public safety concerns,” Armstrong said.

Three departments have already submitted various event requests, with one department sending four different events, McGuire said. She did not disclose the names of the departments to the North Texas Daily.

“Although we are starting small, we’re hopeful this will merely be a starting place to allowing more in person events this spring,” McGuire said. “We hope everyone can be patient with us as we make decisions that seek to protect our overall campus community.”

Featured Image: Signage for the Student Activities Center can be read on the class wall in Union 345 on Oct. 26, 2020. Image by John Anderson

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Ileana Garnand

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