By Riley Eisenbeil
Funival, the College’s annual carnival to celebrate the last day of classes, has been on a brief two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
“Funival was amazing,” said Soundharya Mahadevan, a senior biomedical engineering major. “I had such a great time hanging out with friends that I couldn’t during the semester because of how busy we were.”
Funival is one of the highlights of the college experience for many upperclassmen, but many freshmen, sophomores and juniors who had no prior ties to the College before March 2020 are in the dark about the event due to the pandemic.
This carnival is not the only event hosted by the College Union Board (CUB) that was canceled since Covid-19 hit — all events were canceled after students were sent home for spring break in 2020 and events just started up again last semester.
CUB is a student-run organization at the College. Their role is to provide free or reduced-priced entertainment events such as live events, alternative programming, afternoon events, comedy shows, late-night events and travel events.
From concerts to guest speakers to Funival, CUB has been working hard to maintain its reputation by providing events to the campus. But for an organization that relies on large in-person events, the pandemic presented an especially significant obstacle.
“Many do not know about what college is like pre-Covid and it has affected all of us,” said Wandally Vargas, a senior communications major and CUB’s executive director. “In terms of the event planning world, we are all still students running the organization and I know for myself, I struggle with balancing my own mental health, a social life that is left and ensuring that my organization and the students on campus are comfortable and safe at our events.”
Vargas, who has been a member of CUB since the fall of 2018, said it has been hard for students to juggle readjusting to in-person classes, living on campus and just existing as students again. Members of CUB, beyond experiencing the normal stressors of being college students, are in positions that can sometimes be reflective of full-time jobs.
CUB Live’s chair is in charge of planning the concert, a comedy show, a lecture and another event of their choosing. Jared Pinkham, a senior speech pathology and audiology major who serves as CUB Live’s chair, has been a member since the spring of 2019.
“I don’t want to say [CUB] was more fun, but it was more relaxed” prior to the pandemic, they said.
Prior to March of 2020, members could just go to events and have fun without worrying about having a ‘super spreader’ event, Pinkham said.
Pinkham also said that it has been difficult to keep up with both the school and the state’s everchanging mandates regarding Covid-19.
Over the summer, pre-pandemic, CUB knew who was coming, when the performers would be there and where the events would be held. During the pandemic, CUB did not know if they would be able to have in-person events, if they would have to be virtual or if they had to be at half capacity.
Everything was up in the air, SFB funding just being one piece of it. Pinkham explained that CUB has to stay up to date on the College’s Covid-19 rules as it’s been a week-to-week basis of trying to figure everything out.
CUB has many events planned for this semester and although many underclassmen have already missed out on all of the pre-pandemic events, there is still a lot to look forward to, Pinkham said.
“If all goes well and we keep getting testing and masking up, hopefully, one day the future classes of TCNJ will have a non-pandemic college experience once again,” Vargas said.