Over fast-paced rhymes and slower, thoughtful odes, USU students joined each other on Instagram for an avant-garde Slam Poet Night on Wednesday evening.
Although USU student events were among the many activities canceled to slow the spread of COVID-19, student leaders devised new ways to engage with the USU student body.
“After the announcement that all events were canceled, we just kind of felt that it was the end,” said USU Student Events Vice President Cooper Low. “After about a week of not knowing what to do, I sat down with some other students and our adviser and we knew we had to do something.”
Low worked with other student leaders to figure out which of their previously planned events could translate over to social media, specifically Paint Night, Slam Poet Night, and Poetry and a Beverage, an event highlighting a variety of performers.
On Monday night, the USU student events Instagram page hosted a paint night. A livestream of Low working on a painting of a past event, Aggie Voice, was viewed by over 600 people, and 40 people submitted their artwork to be judged for a prize.
“The whole purpose of these kinds of events is to still get interaction from students,” said Nichole Chiaramonte, the series director. “We were really impressed by how many people submitted things and participated. It was comparable to our in-person events.”
Chiaramonte explained that with the Slam Poet Night on Wednesday evening, student poets sent in videos, they were edited together and streamed on Instagram Live so students were able to react and comment in real time.
“It was such a cool experience,” said Ketzel Morales, a senior at USU who shared a poem during the online event. “I think it was so powerful for me because USU events have a way of offering safety and belonging to the students, and being able to still have a way to be together, even though it was over Instagram, I still felt that.”
Morales said it was strange opening up like she did on camera but as she shared the poem about women empowerment that she has worked on for over a year, she was grateful there was a space for people to express themselves.
“It is more than just scrolling through Instagram, it is another way to get involved,” Chiaramonte explained. “Although school feels like it is over now because nobody is on campus, we feel like we are stewards over student fees, and this has been a great way to get involved with the students.”
Low said mental health was also a consideration when starting up events again.
“I am a raging extrovert and it has been hard to social distance,” Low said. “But this has been really helpful for me and I think it has been helpful for others as well.”
Chiaramonte said that she knows many people are balancing different new responsibilities now such as navigating online classes or packing up to move home but that a small event could help people reconnect.
“If it is a short, simple event, people can take a 30-minute break and join us,” Chiaramonte said.
Morales said the series of events can help people find closure as the semester wraps up.
“I didn’t know my last day in class was my last day,” Morales said. “Usually we have parties, events and banquets to signal the end of the year, but this will definitely help, even if it is a little different.”
For more information about upcoming online USU student events, go to ususaevents on Instagram.