CAB Reflects on Semester of COVID-19 Safe Programming


Members of the Campus Activities Board (CAB) have labored through the year to provide the same level of events for the student body in a time where gathering is more difficult than ever. (Mackenzie Cranna/ The Fordham Ram)

There is nothing to relieve the stress of a college workload quite like a fun movie night with friends. The “Cinevents” Committee of the Fordham Campus Activities Board (CAB) regularly hosts film screenings for students, but fun and relaxed events like these have become a challenge during a global pandemic. 

Students who attended a CAB movie night this semester had quite a different experience than they might have had in previous years. The club, like every student organization at Fordham, has had to adapt to new COVID-19 guidelines. All events must require attendees to register online beforehand, according to the university’s COVID-19 guidelines for student programming. This rule is a precaution that is meant to ensure proper contact tracing if a student at an event tests positive for the virus, according to the guidelines. 

Though necessary for safety, policies like these negatively impact the turnout at some CAB events, said Cinevents Co-Chair Jacob Aguirre, FCRH ’23. 

“People cannot just casually walk by events and join in anymore,” he said. “I think we’d have a higher turnout if it wasn’t as complex this semester.” 

Students attending CAB events must also practice proper social distancing and wear a mask at all times, Aguirre explained. Despite the challenges the new guidelines present, Aguirre said his committee is still focused on providing Fordham students with a good experience. 

“We play a big role in student life,” he said. “I think all of us really care about making Fordham a fun place for everyone, so we’re willing to put the extra time and energy into making things COVID-19 friendly.” 

The Cinevents Committee’s biggest event of the year is Campus Movie Fest, which typically happens in April as part of Spring Weekend, said Aguirre. The event is an opportunity for Fordham students to create original short films and enter them into a competition that CAB executive board members judge. 

This year, the competition will take place over several weeks instead of just one to better accommodate virtual students and possible production complications due to the pandemic, said Aguirre. The Cinevents Committee will also create a plan to host the big film screening event online if an in-person showcase of the competition entries is not feasible. 

Julia Petalcorin, GBS ’22, has also had to adjust her committee’s plans for the year. As one of the co-chairs for CAB’s Weekend Activities Committee, she plans off-campus excursions that allow Fordham students to get a taste of New York City. However, with the new COVID-19 restrictions in place, there are not many tourist sites taking groups this fall, said Petalcorin. 

However, she said her committee has been able to plan several successful trips this semester. Petalcorin and her co-chair have taken small groups on an outdoor ghost tour in Greenwich Village, to the High Line and to the top of Rockefeller Center. 

Petalcorin said the trip to Rockefeller Center, which occurred in mid-September, was especially successful, as she observed that the freshmen on the excursion seemed to be making new friends as the day went on. In general, she said the trip helped the attendees feel more comfortable at the start of a difficult semester. 

“It’s great to see people having fun and taking pictures,” said Petalcorin. “Even though we had our masks on, it was nice to kind of feel like it was normal.” 

CAB also had to adjust its big event of the fall semester, Family Weekend. Because it was not feasible for parents to visit campus with restrictions for out-of-state travelers in place, the Special Events Committee decided to replace the usual event with a new Fall Fest, said Petalcorin. The decision came only a few weeks before the event took place, but the committee was able to quickly book vendors and schedule activities for the two-day celebration, she said. 

“I give our Special Events Committee a ton of credit for doing that,” said Petalcorin. “This is an event we’ve never done anything like this before, and they were able to pull it together so quickly. I think it went so smoothly.” 

The event included food trucks, fun games like inflatable ax-throwing and a movie night on Coffey Field, said Petalcorin. Attendees were able to take home swag, including free t-shirts, stickers and lots of candy and other sweet treats. The event also included Family Weekend’s usual Maroon Mainstage, a showcase of student performance groups on campus. The show was livestreamed so people back home could still enjoy the performances, explained Petalcorin.

CAB President Lianna Meehan, FCRH ’21, said that while the club primarily aims to serve the student body, putting on events like normal provides a lot of comfort to executive board members as well.

“[CAB] is such a source of joy in my life that it’s really been a bright spot for me in such dark times,” said Meehan. “I’m just so grateful for every moment I have on CAB. I really feel like it’s become such an outlet both for myself and for my board members.”

Leehan has also observed that students still want to come to events, even if it means they have to wear masks and follow all of Fordham’s guidelines. She said she feels CAB events and activities have become a way for students to forget the stress of this unusual and difficult time. 

“Because people are going through a lot, I think it’s so special that we’re able to lighten that emotional load,” said Meehan. “Everyone’s in a slump, so why don’t we all come together and put on events that bring people out and make them feel a part of something special? We can give them that sense of community that we love about Fordham at a time when it feels like we’re so alone.”

Fordham students will not return to campus for the spring semester until February, a change made in light of a possible spike of COVID-19 cases during the holiday months. Leehan said CAB will try to be ready for whatever new challenges next semester has in store. 

“We’ll just see what the future brings and adjust accordingly,” she said.