Last Thursday, WHUS and the Division of Student Affairs collaborated to do something nearly unheard of in the time of the pandemic: They put on a concert. Outdoors, in the freezing cold, with only a week of advertising, three Connecticut bands performed for an audience of about 60 people in Live! From the Turf.
Clearly, it was in a bit of a rush to beat the winter season. And perhaps this helped to keep numbers down to a safe amount. Regardless, Live! From the Turf showcased what can happen when the campus community puts their mind toward adapting social life in the age of COVID-19.
Going into the fall semester, many feared how the University of Connecticut could possibly reopen. So many things that people consider core to college — from underage drinking at house parties to extracurriculars to tailgates to general dorm life — are impossible or at least muted with social distancing in place. Not only has there been a fear of the coronavirus from a health and safety perspective, but many feared the point of living on campus was moot.
For the most part, these fears have been well-founded. It’s depressing to walk around during the week and have it feel like a weekend. It’s unmotivating to have to perform all your classes from your room. It’s boring to have Friday and Saturday nights mean nothing different from the other week nights. And all groups around campus have been running about trying to figure out a way to help with this critical lack of social interaction.
That’s why events like Live! From the Turf should be commended, despite its middling crowd and differences from other concerts. It’s an experiment into what social events can look like in the age of COVID-19. All of the bands involved in the production commented on this; yes, it was cold and small, but they were just excited to play live music for the first time in months.
As tired as it may be to say at this point, what UConn and the rest of the world is going through is unprecedented. We have never before had to be scared of coming into too close contact with others, hypervigilant of the size of gatherings, logging everywhere we go in the event of contact tracing. It’s isolating, and it’s especially frustrating when students are coming back to campus (even if there’s increased risk) because they need social interaction. So it is the duty of student and university leaders to figure out ways to bridge this social gap.
It’s no secret that COVID-19 is here to stay, at least for a while. Spring semester is already limited to 50% capacity, and fall 2021 is almost certainly going to be impacted as well. We need to plan and adapt to how we can still live a fulfilling existence through this. And it is on all of us to actively work on how we can help the lives of our community.