Due to the COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, the majority of East Carolina University’s annual campus events and activities have been cancelled. The main priority at ECU is its students, staff and faculty’s safety and therefore, individuals are limited in terms of being on campus.
Residence halls have closed completely for students as of March 25 to limit the number of students on campus. Although ECU’s campus remains open, there are minimal campus operations.
Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson sent out an email statement to all students regarding the coronavirus and what ECU plans to do in the future. The statement mentioned the extension of spring break, how classes and professors will turn to alternative methods to teach ECU students and the cancellations to ECU campus and activities.
“Effective immediately, ECU is restricted from hosting gatherings with expected attendance of 100 or more people taking place on or off campus until further notice. Events or meetings sponsored by student organizations are also included,” Mitchelson said in the statement.
All events are cancelled unless authorization has been given by Mitchelson, according to the email. Individuals can check ECU’s events calendar page or with event organizers to see if their event is still taking place. The email said events or activities don’t have a rescheduled date as of now.
The email also mentioned all university-sponsored travel in and out of the state of North Carolina is suspended until further notice. This includes faculty-led and student-led organizations.
“The university is suspending until further notice all university-sponsored international travel,” the email said.
The East Carolinian reached out to Justin Janak, director of Student Activities and Organizations, who provided a statement on the options the Student Activities Board will provide for students. The East Carolinian was then turned to News Services by Janak.
Janak did mention that SAB and Student Activities and Organizations will look at a variety of options in terms of providing virtual programming to continue to provide engagement for students.
“I will have more information solidified on that in the coming weeks,” Janak mentioned in his email.
According to the ECU events calendar website, all events are cancelled for the remaining of the semester.
For instance, the Spring Dance 2020 will no longer be held in light of the coronavirus. This event was organized by the School of Theater and Dance and was originally scheduled for April 17, according to the website.
“If you have already purchased tickets to this event and desire a refund, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org along with the name under which you purchased your ticket(s), or call 252-328-6829. We apologize for this inconvenience,” the events calendar website said.
Freshman double-major in biology and chemistry, Aniyah Coleman, said she understands why these campus events and activities are cancelled but it’s disappointing.
“I feel like I didn’t get my full year worth of ECU. I definitely wish the coronavirus didn’t affect us and the community as much as it did because we are missing out on the great opportunities we once had the chance to go to,” Coleman said.
Coleman also mentioned that it is important these events are cancelled because students, faculty and staff’s safety is most important at ECU. She said it’s very essential to limit social gatherings in order to stop the spread of the virus.
An email was also sent out from Mitchelson to all students regarding a switch to a virtual commencement ceremony for those graduating this May. The email stated graduation will be held virtually instead of an in-person event due to the coronavirus.
Mitchelson said in the email he hopes to have an in-person commencement ceremony later this year. He said in the statement he will inform students once plans are finalized.
“We know commencement weekend is important and you have had it marked on your calendar for a long time, but your education from ECU is more than just one day,” Mitchelson said in the statement.
Mitchelson said in the statement he is immensely proud of the graduating ECU students and their academic accomplishments throughout the years. Mitchelson said he realizes commencement is a significant milestone for the graduating class and their families, according to the statement.
Though she is not a senior, Coleman said she was looking forward to watching her friends walk across the stage at commencement. She believes both her friends and their families are disappointed with the outcome.
“This is one of the biggest events of the year. I’m personally not a senior but I was looking forward to seeing some of my friends I met this year graduate. I know they and their families are very disappointed,” Coleman said.
The circumstances at ECU and the progression of the coronavirus is immensely stressful, according to Coleman. She also mentioned the measures taken by ECU is a very slow process but knows she is not alone.
“Everyone is going through a terrible time right now. I am confident ECU will be there for their students now more than ever,” Coleman said.