No students signed up to attend Human iPod Night during stress relief week, and only a handful attended the nail painting event. Student event coordinator Blain McVey said he is looking forward to event promotions becoming more personal again.
From April 27 to April 30, Webster students could attend or engage in activities for Stress Relief Week. Events included Human iPod Night, Yoga on the Quad, an Instagram Giveaway, At Home Spa Day Nail Painting and Foodie Fridays.
Jennifer Stewart, the director of the Office of Student Engagement, said the week is a good way to finish up the semester as students prepare for finals.
“I think even just acknowledging that this is a busy time, and this is a stressful time,” Stewart said. “You all have so many things – projects and finals and everything – that you’re worried about right now, but it’s okay to stop and take a breath.”
Campus Activities held Stress Relief Week to give students a break from the end of semester stress, according to Stewart. However, student event coordinator Luzala Tamrakar said the digital format of Stress Relief Week created challenges in encouraging students to engage.
Tamrakar said the main difficulty is getting students to attend virtual events. The Human iPod Night event had to be canceled because no one RSVPed, according to Stewart.
Moreover, Tamrakar added some students will sign up for virtual events and then forget about them when it comes time to attend.
“I’ve asked around like, even to my friends and, ‘Why do you think students don’t come?’ They just think that it’s not worth virtual [compared to] in person,” Tamrakar said. “I’m glad even if three people would just attend our virtual events, to be honest, these days because it’s been really hard.”
Although roughly nine people signed up for the At Home Spa Day Nail Painting event, only three students attended. Tamrakar worked with fellow student event coordinator Blain McVey to plan and promote the event.
McVey said he was hired as a student event coordinator just over a month ago, making Stress Relief Week the first event McVey has helped plan for Campus Activities. He said his first job for Campus Activities was to come up with various ideas for the week. McVey said, during his brainstorming, he came across a recurring idea of a virtual spa event.
“I had a friend on Twitter who doesn’t go to Webster, but she was like, ‘I painted my nails today and it reduced so much stress,’” McVey said, “and I was like, ‘Oh, this is perfect.’ Because the event was stress relief week.”
McVey and Tamrakar were able to set up a table to distribute supplies for the virtual event. However, he and Tamrakar felt the pandemic and smaller number of students on campus has made promoting virtual events difficult.
Tamrakar said having Stewart send out schoolwide emails to raise awareness for events has helped. However, she added she does not want to overwhelm students with emails.
Having worked as an event coordinator for three years, Tamrakar said people walking through campus would notice in-person events and decide to check them out. McVey said he is also ready for event promotions to become more personal.
“I’m really looking forward to like more opportunities to like advertise the event and that like sitting on campus more, tabling, putting out flyers and talking when I come across a friend and be like, ‘Hey, this Thursday at 7:00 PM, are you going to be there?’” McVey said.
Stewart said other students are looking forward to returning to an in-person atmosphere, as well. Students said they would like to see animal-based events to return to Stress Relief Week during the Instagram Giveaway event, according to Stewart.
Looking back, Tamrakar said the puppy visits or karaoke events were her favorite events to organize for Stress Relief Week. She said the pandemic – and the move to a more remote atmosphere – has helped her see the importance of Campus Activities and the events it organizes.
“I’ve talked to a couple of freshmen this semester and I feel so bad for them because they’re in the bad time to make new friends and everything. I’m just like campus events actually do boost up their friendship,” Tamrakar said.
While Stewart said this past year has been full of “two steps forward, one step back,” she said she is hopeful going into the fall. Stewart said she is looking forward to working with Campus Activities to reconnect people across campus.
“We’re really excited for [to come back to campus] and really excited to kind of rebuild and regrow the community that does exist on campus. And I think, overall, it’s been hard, but I feel like people have done a pretty good job of maintaining that in their small pockets throughout campus,” Stewart said. “It’s just kind of bringing all of those people, hopefully, back together in some more visible ways.”
Moving into the fall, Stewart said Campus Activities will look to reschedule Human iPod guest John Rush. McVey said he would like to consider another in-person nail painting event.
Whether online or in-person, though, McVey said events can help with some of the isolation students might experience due to the pandemic.
“[Campus Activities] put so much thought and time into [events],” McVey said, “and so it’s really nice for me to be a part of that team and to kind of help bring that spirit to campus, as well.”