Event Planning and Execution in the World of COVID-19

Shepherdstown W.Va.,- Since March of 2020, COVID-19 swept America and drastically altered our lives. Though it is the least of most people’s worries, events have been drastically changed in format since this occurrence. The people who do worry about these events, however, are the people who put them on. At Shepherd University, that would be the Student Leadership Team of Program Board along with their two advisors Rachael Meads and Kell Clothier.

Pictured is part of the Program Team and some friends who help constantly.
Top Left to Right: Alyssa Roush (GA for Fraternity and Sorority Life), Rachael Meads (Advisor of Program Board)
Middle Left to Right: Bailey Funk (Program Board Community Service Chair), Madi Welder (GA for Title IX), Taylor Seitzinger (Program Board Collaboration Chair)

This team of students comes up with the biggest free events on Shepherd’s campus and are available to all undergraduate students. With a global pandemic in place, it became unrealistic to host most events in person. Over the summer of 2020, I worked with my two bosses Kell and Rachael to create content to continue our social media presence and smaller events to keep students engaged.

“Switching to online events has been an uphill challenge, but my team is doing very well adjusting,” said Kell Clothier, graduate assistant for Program Board. “We understand that after students having a majority of their classes online that staring at the computer screen more is probably the last thing they want to be doing. We hope to keep offering programs and events that students can look forward to. We want to continue building community in any way that we can for our students!”

As we came back for the fall 2020 semester and beyond, we’ve moved from an entirely virtual platform of events to a mixture of in person (yet still safe) events along with the previously established online events. This is to accommodate any comfort level and any location students may be at.

The most successful events have still been the in-person ones, however. The same amount of work goes into both though, so with low numbers at virtual events since the semester has begun, the team has had to investigate how to adapt marketing and make students want to engage virtually.

To get the perspective of students from these virtual events, I asked a common attendee Abi McClung for her thoughts on how she enjoys them.

“The biggest thing that I noticed about Program Board’s new online events is that they were just as friendly and inviting as they are in person. Though it’s hard to hold a big event online, those who come always seem happy,” Abi said with a grin on her face.

Since our events and climate are different, the way we advertise for these events has also had to adapt. As Program Board, we’ve decided to focus our advertising push on social media since a large student population isn’t on campus.

Program Board Instagram Account

We are also focusing our print ads to go in residence halls since that is primarily where students will be attending virtual events from. Besides events, we’ve also dedicated time on our platforms to advocate for student engagement and wellbeing through a series of videos titled, “60 Seconds to Success.” These were implemented to teach tips and tricks to incoming students who aren’t getting the normal start to their college career.

Though life has changed so much as of late, we’re still trying our best to consistently have fun, engaging events for the student population. If you’re interested in finding out more about Program Board’s events on campus, follow us @ShepherdPB on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Juneau Daggs