Center of the Universe Parties (COUP) have long been a mainstay in the student body’s means of recreation. Centering around themes that run the gamut from Greek Mythology to Cryptids, they are cherished events that students can go for a truly unique and immersive party experience. However, the cancellation of the Fall 2020 COUP in the wake of COVID-19 safety procedures has left many questions as to what will be in its place.
In lieu of a traditional COUP, NCSA President and Catalyst Copy Editor Sofia Lombardi is planning a socially distanced alternative, including the potential for goodie bags and a Zoom event.
“We can’t have the typical party that we have every semester,” Lombardi said. “Right now, I’m working on establishing an in-person component that will allow students to still have a photo-op on campus, and still have a good time, but while being masked and appropriately distant.”
Lombardi collaborated with Student Affairs, Administration, and Student Activities and Campus Engagement (SA[u]CE) staff to develop these plans. The priority is mostly on safety, especially with COVID cases in Sarasota on the rise, and more positive tests on campus being reported.
The lack of festivities is not an easy pill to swallow, but many students understand the importance of adhering to safety procedures. Third-year Clayton Bauldree added some perspective.
“The PCPs try their best to provide a fun outlet for student’s stress, and while one would be good around these trying times, I think it’s good that there is not going to be any big in-person gathering,” Bauldree, who co-organized last fall’s “Cryptid COUP,” stated.
Bauldree also elaborated on how the Halloween COUP was planned, discussing challenges that existed even before the time of social distancing, as this legacy has not been without its fair share of controversies.
Concerns over security as well as illicit substance use have led to increased spending on mandated security and a name change to the less Phencyclidine-associated name of Center of the Universe Parties (COUPs). Despite these changes, the parties have endured until now. As with most in-person social events, COVID-19 has made their existence tenuous.
It remains to be seen what other alternatives to traditional social gatherings will be for the rest of the holiday season, but Halloween celebrations at NCF continue in full spirit, even if they are more subdued in practice.