JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – East Tennessee State University is creating a series of “ETSU Meet-Ups” to encourage safe, in-person, interactive gatherings among students on campus in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
These events are designed for and by students with social distancing and university COVID-19 guidelines in mind. A Meet-Up could be a small, limited-participation activity sponsored by an ETSU office, department or student organization, or students can even create their own gatherings based on shared interests.
Students who live on or near the ETSU campus are already enjoying such activities as outdoor painting classes, a workshop on how to plant and care for succulents, and more. The Department of Campus Recreation is now taking registration for hiking, cornhole, biking and tennis events, and Buctainment and other organizations have been sponsoring drive-in movies on campus since the start of the fall semester. In addition, the ETSU Bands program in the Department of Music is hosting a series of Friday Concerts on (Borchuck) Plaza featuring small groups of Marching Bucs members, as well as an upcoming outdoor lunchtime concert by the Wind Ensemble and Concert Band.
The Meet-Ups concept came about in response to student feedback via a student organization leader survey, emails and impromptu conversations, in which students indicated the need for in-person interaction, according to Carter Warden, ETSU director of Student Activities and Organizations.
“Students were experiencing virtual meeting burnout and were craving some form of interaction with others,” Warden said. “We found that some students were afraid they would get in trouble if they got together with a few friends even if they were wearing masks and social distancing, so much so that they began going off campus to hang out with friends. So some staff began brainstorming ways to educate and encourage students to meet safely on campus.”
An ETSU Meet-Ups website (etsu.edu/meet-ups) has been created as a central place to share information about these safe, limited-attendance gatherings. According to university COVID-19 guidelines, indoor events are limited to 15 participants and outdoor events to 50.