After eleven long months of mostly virtual classes and meetings, students and professors alike are suffering from Zoom fatigue. Now, there’s one more possible source of relief: Since Feb. 1, Duke has allowed limited in-person club meetings and events.
As of right now, events can involve a maximum of 10 people, must follow state and local COVID-19 guidelines and must be approved 14 days beforehand by University Center Activities and Events staff, said Christopher Roby, assistant vice president for student affairs.
A committee within student affairs is creating “a review process that will allow for some larger-scale events to occur once fully vetted and determined to be soundly planned with appropriate safety procedures,” Roby said.
Student Affairs made the decision to allow limited in-person events after consulting with student leaders, faculty and parents during the fall semester.
“Our community was hurting from the absence of student-driven events. The lack of student interactions was taking a toll and making some students feel isolated,” Roby said, emphasizing “just how important connection and community-building are for our students, now more than ever.”
While Student Affairs’ top priority is still to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep the Duke community safe, “with good safety measures, clear expectations, and by partnering with our students, we could intentionally begin to open things up a bit,” Roby said.
According to the UCAE website, events sponsored by Student Affairs must be approved by a department head, be advertised only to undergraduate students who are approved to be on campus and have a staff member present during the event.
Student groups that plan on-campus events are expected to follow all Duke COVID-19 safety rules and and prohibit food and drinks. Up to four undergraduate student group events will be allowed to occur each day, and clubs may not host more than one event per week.
In addition, hosts of the event must track attendance and preserve the record for 30 days. This requirement will help contact tracers in case a student present at an event later tests positive, Roby said.
The UCAE has created the student event manager position this year to assist with the event approval process. The position entails “ensuring that all programs are logged in DukeGroups, that all DukeCompact and COVID safety procedures are adhered to and that attendance is tracked,” Roby said.
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