Ally Bivens

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Winthrop University has started offering required cultural events online and many students have said being able to attend the events virtually has been helpful and they hope the practice will continue.

Students at Winthrop are required to attend 18 cultural events in order to graduate and the purpose of these events is to create a diverse and well-rounded student body.

Normally, cultural events are held in-person and on campus where students scan their Winthrop ID before and after the event to verify that they were present for the whole event.

However, during the pandemic, the majority of cultural events for the fall 2020 semester have been moved online through Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate so that students are still able to attend the events and work towards the 18 required credits.

To receive credit for virtual events, students must have their cameras enabled during the event and fill out the post-attendance survey.

“It is very convenient to have cultural event opportunities online and I enjoy having the freedom and flexibility to virtually attend,” said Sarah Perkins, a commuter and post-traditional student from Rock Hill.

Perkins said she has had some technical difficulties, including during one virtual cultural event on Blackboard Collaborate when she didn’t know there was a way to switch from the speaker view to the presentation view and missed seeing the presentation slides.

“There’s been a learning curve, but they are way easier to attend now, and I hope that virtual events will continue to be offered, even after all of this,” said Perkins.

John Bailey, a computer science major and commuter from Fort Mill, said he also has had issues in Zoom with “glitchy video and audio, because of a poor connection,” but appreciates that Winthrop has limited the number of in-person events and is trying to keep its students safe.

Ashley Maier, a freshman early childhood education major from Fort Mill, has only attended cultural events virtually at Winthrop so far.

“Being on Zoom is new to us all, so there have been technical difficulties with some of the events, but they are only minor and being able to virtually attend events has made me feel more connected to other students at Winthrop,” Maier said.

“One event I attended was called ‘TEAR’ and it was a discussion about COVID-19 and the effects on mental health. And after attending this event, it made me realize that other people were going through the same things I was and it really felt like we were all in one community and connected,” she said.

Lauren Norton, a freshman sociology major, attended one of the cultural events titled “Unsane.”

“It was a movie and before the movie it was just talking about stalking and how to protect yourself and what to do in those situations,” Norton said.

She said having the cultural events virtually has made discussions during the events easier and less intimidating.

“During the movie, we were able to talk in the chat about what was happening, which is something we really wouldn’t have been able to do if this event had been in person,” Norton said.