New campus-wide food restrictions present challenges for SA events

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Written by Amanda Blake and Estefania Sanchez

This year, because of COVID-19, food has been removed from all Student Association (SA) events.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Tennessee Department of Health, there are three safety precautions that decrease the chances of spreading the virus: wearing masks properly, washing hands frequently and maintaining social distance. At large events such as the recent Welcome Back party, the annual Fall Festival and 423 Night Market, following these three guidelines can become difficult, especially when there is food involved. 

“During meals, the mask comes off and the social distance rarely, if ever, gets maintained,” Vice President of Student Development Dennis Negron said. “Events bring a large number of students together in places that often make distancing difficult or impossible.”

To replace the lack of food, SA has discussed alternatives such as restaurant gift cards to hand out at events. Although  a temporary fix, Negron acknowledges this alternative is much pricier than serving food. 

Nadine Peteros, SA’s social vice president, said attendance at this year’s events will be affected because, “… food brings everyone together.”

 While Peteros acknowledges low attendance is a possibility, she says SA is working hard to make events as engaging as possible while following the safety precautions. 

In a recent poll on the Accent’s Instagram account, students were asked if they would still attend school events if there was no food being served. Of the 311 respondents, 146 students said “yes” and 165 students said “no.” 

 Senior accounting  major Sissel Soderblom said she would still attend the event for the social aspect. 

“I go to events mainly to hang out with friends, so this change won’t affect my attendance at all,” Soderblom said.

On the contrary, students such as senior biology major Tais Bautista said that even if food was being distributed at events, she wouldn’t go because germ transmission is much more likely to happen.

SA has no plans to cancel any events at this time, as long as students follow the rules and guidelines that are being enforced by the school. 

Madi Reinschmidt receives a Crumbles Cookies voucher at this Saturday’s night SA Welcome Back Party. Since it is no longer allowed to distribute food at campus events, SA decided to give away the cookies as gift cards.  
Photo by Xander Ordinola.

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