Photo by Olivia Ross
By Seth Carpenter, Staff Writer–
I Love UTC Week made a return in the midst of Covid-19 with changes in events to coordinate with pandemic regulations.
Many of the events were virtual with some in-person exceptions. Notable events included “Coffee with the Chancellor,” “UTC Field Day,” “Virtual Cooking Class with Dory Cooper” and the football game between UTC and Mercer University.
Director of University Events Laura Cagle, who is responsible for supporting and coordinating the week as well as university events throughout the year, emphasized its importance.
“This year I think it probably took on a whole other meaning and level of significance because people did need an opportunity to reflect on the positive things,” Cagle said. “It’s an opportunity to reflect and celebrate what makes this place special.”
There were also challenges with bringing back I Love UTC Week with the pandemic still at large. In-person events, for example, had to follow campus guidelines by limiting attendance and focusing on outdoor venues.
Another mainstay of the pandemic showed up as well with significantly lower participation than years past.
“Numbers have been smaller compared to previous years,” Cagle said. “People are still just overwhelmed and fatigued, and like we’re still in a global pandemic. So, it’s hard to refocus and do something fun for an hour.”
However, I Love UTC Week also brought some reprieve after the workload of midterms for many students.
Sophomore Forrest Webb attended a game of archery tag for “UTC Field Day.”
“Usually after midterms everyone’s pretty cooked and stressed from studying, so this is going to be a good kind of stress reliever for people to relax a little bit and have some fun,” Webb said.
Despite the drawbacks and restrictions associated with contemporary events, Cagle thinks there is something to gain from this year.
“The university is no different from anyone else. We’ve all gotten really good at Zoom; we’ve all gotten really good at virtual events,” she said. “I don’t see virtual totally going away and I think that’s a good thing.” Due to the inclement weather on Thursday, both the staff and alumni virtual trivia nights were postponed until Thursday, April 1, the latter of which is open for students to attend.