The Student Entertainment Committee is still working on planning events for students to attend while following covid-19 guidelines. Graphic courtesy of SEC.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has limited in-person activities, the University of Rhode Island’s Student Entertainment Committee (SEC) is still planning virtual and socially-distanced in-person events to create a sense of community engagement.

Mercedes DeFeo, SEC president, saw immense change for the committee due to the pandemic, from the planning of online events to holding committee meetings virtually. However, she believes that the committee has adapted gracefully.

“Everything’s kind of changed for us, but I’m really happy to say that everyone on the committee has kind of taken it with stride,” DeFeo said. “We’re doing a really good job of adapting.”

SEC’s online events have been well-attended by URI students, which has led to further online events being planned, according to Sydney Klein, the organization’s special events director. SEC Advertising President Sidney Pimental noted that nearly 1,300 URI students attended last semester’s virtual discussion featuring Will Ferrell and Judd Apatow, while 800 viewed a virtual Sal Vulcano comedy show. SEC is currently planning to hold similar events.

Klein explained that planning virtual events forced the committee to consider factors they would not have otherwise. For example, Klein said that booking stand-up comedians is challenging virtually because it is more difficult for the comedian to interact with the audience that way. 

As they have transitioned to planning virtual events, Pimental and her committee have also had to change how they market events. This includes putting a greater emphasis on social media as opposed to the promotional booths they used to hold on-campus and the flyers they’d put inside dorms.

“We are planning to do promotional videos on our social media to try and get people to join in a different way than we normally have,” Pimental said. “So more engagement, different style posts, really anything we can, just because it is our main tool right now.”

Along with virtual event planning for comedians and other talents to entertain students, DeFeo has been attempting to find a way to hold in-person events on campus that abide to COVID-19 guidelines. This includes trying to figure out if they can hold their annual Winterfest Week events, which would happen at the start of next semester.

 “We’ve also tried to do something we used to call a daytime distraction sort of event, such as stuffing a stuffed animal or making a snow globe with your friends pictures in it,” DeFeo said. “We are trying to still have those kind of events, but in a way that is safe so people can take an activity or product with them and then go and put it together on their own.”