As COVID-19 continues to disrupt social events at Penn, one senior class tradition will look a little different this year. The Class of 2021 Board has moved Feb Club, a series of events for seniors traditionally held in February, to April, in hopes that pandemic conditions will improve.
The Class Board typically hosts Feb Club events for seniors to celebrate their last semester, holding one event each day of the month. Past events have included 76ers basketball games, trips to Atlantic City, N.J., and snow tubing.
Class Board President and Wharton senior Lizzie Youshaei said she hopes the change to April Club, which the Class Board announced in an email to seniors on Jan. 18, will allow for the possibility of some in-person, outdoor events as the weather becomes warmer, and if the COVID-19 pandemic improves. Some seniors said they were pleasantly surprised by the change, adding that they weren't sure if the tradition would live on this year in light of the pandemic.
Youshaei added that even if there are fewer COVID-19 cases in April, she understands that there will still be students who do not feel safe participating in in-person events and students learning away from Penn. To accommodate all students, the Class Board will plan potential in-person events with a virtual component. If COVID-19 does not improve, however, Youshaei said events will be held completely online.
The Class Board hopes to have an in-person and online event for each day, if pandemic conditions permit. For example, Youshaei said, one event may be a virtual bartending class, where students can pick up materials provided for them by Class Board before the session.
She said Class Board is also considering a possible outdoor, socially distanced concert, where students in the audience sit on blankets at least six feet apart.
“We’re trying to utilize the outdoor space that Penn has, like Penn Park or Franklin Field, to do larger-scale events in a COVID-19-safe manner,” Youshaei said.
Running April Club during the pandemic may increase costs compared to a normal year, Youshaei said. She said that in order to run the virtual bartending class, Class Board would have to purchase more materials for each student participating to have their own set. For an outdoor concert, if COVID-19 guidelines limit how many students can gather at once, Class Board may ask the artist to perform their concert multiple times to ensure more students can attend, which would up the cost.
Youshaei said Class Board plans to structure the four weeks of April Club to represent the four years of the Class of 2021’s time at Penn. The first week, for example, would feature Econ Scream and Cram and Jam, two events traditionally held each year by the first years' Class Board.
College senior Jaden Baum said she was pleasantly surprised to hear that Class Board was planning on holding Feb Club at all, as she had assumed it would be impossible due to COVID-19.
Baum also hopes COVID-19 will be less prevalent by April, allowing the senior class to participate in some outdoor events in compliance with Penn's Student Campus Compact's COVID-19 guidelines and Philadelphia health regulations.
“I think [Class Board is] doing the best that [it] can in terms of trying to make a less-than-ideal situation slightly more palatable, especially for seniors who've had a year and a half of their Penn experience basically taken away from them,” Baum said.
College senior Heta Patel agreed that, while she does not think it will be possible to replicate a normal Feb Club, she is looking forward to attending outdoor, in-person events if they are possible in April.
“If they can do COVID-19-safe outdoor gatherings or activities, I'm totally down, and I'm really happy that they're doing that,” Patel said.
College senior Sabrina Ochoa echoed Baum, saying that she had already written off the possibility of any kind of Feb Club until she heard from Class Board about April Club.
Ochoa said that, while she does not have as high of expectations as she would for a normal Feb Club, she hopes Class Board will still be able to put on fun events — both outdoors and virtually.
Ochoa added that because several traditional Feb Club events take place at bars and feature drinking, which will not be possible this year because of COVID-19, she hopes Class Board will come up with some more creative events that students who don’t drink might be more comfortable doing.
“This is a really good opportunity, I think, for Class Board to branch out a little bit,” she said.