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Rice Program Council designs Rondelet to meet COVID-19 guidelines

Courtesy Rice University

By Megan Xiao     3/23/21 10:29pm

Due to COVID-19 regulations, the Rice Program Council will be holding Rondelet, an annual formal for Rice students, Friday March 27 at the West Quad on campus by Turrell Skyspace, instead of the typical large, off-campus venue like museums, according to the RPC socials committee. 

“Rondelet will look much different than what students are accustomed to,” Amy Barrett and Yasmin Givens, the RPC socials co-chairs, said. “However, we still believe that we will be able to create an enjoyable experience for many students and provide an opportunity to have a fun, formal event that has not yet been offered this year.”

In previous years, Rondelet was a formal dance often held off campus where students get dressed up for a fancy evening and enjoy good food and music.

“The purpose of Rondelet is really to just bring all of Rice together,” Zac Andrews, an RPC socials committee member, said. “Personally, I sometimes feel like I identify more with Baker College than Rice itself, so I love events like this that are meant for everyone.”

RPC Socials said that COVID-19 regulations made planning for the event a lot more difficult this year. 

“COVID-19 has significantly impacted how we plan events this year with all the extra measures in place to prevent spread,” Carissa Witt, another RPC socials committee member, said. “While these regulations are absolutely necessary to keep students safe, it adds an extra challenging factor for our committee to take into account when planning.”

Barnett and Givens said that they have had many challenges trying to find ways to balance an enjoyable event for students with COVID-19 restrictions and safety concerns.

“This year, we have worked very closely with both the Student Center and Rice’s Crisis Management Team in order to create a fun, yet still safe, event and experience for students,” Barnett and Givens said. 

According to Hollie Evans, the University Events Manager, the Crisis Management and Campus Events have a role in not only approving the events but also in advising and working with the groups of larger events to make sure the events are as safe as possible. 

“In the case of Rondelet, an exemption was requested for 100 guests per wave which is higher than the current 50 maximum,” Evans said. “[RPC] submitted a detailed mitigation plan to the CMT leadership and CMAC for approval and the approval was granted.”

Sumin Choi, a sophomore at Brown College, said she is excited because it is a fun opportunity to hang out with friends, enjoy good food and get some fresh Spring air. 

“I am not too concerned because I know RPC takes COVID-19 guidelines seriously,” Choi said. “Although I am curious as to how RPC is going to make sure people are socially distanced at the Skyspace since it is a big area.”

Barnett and Givens said that social distancing will be enforced by the setup of tables and chairs as well as volunteers enforcing all COVID-19 guidelines.

Andrews and Witt said that the committee has taken many other preemptive measures, including sign-ups and sign-ins to the event, dividing the event into multiple shifts with sanitization breaks in between, individually packaging up the food and limiting the number of participants to the maximum COVID-19 capacity at each location. 

RPC socials said that the main activity of Rondelet is also different this year from previous years. 

“We really have had to reinvent every single event to take into consideration all the new guidelines,” Andrews said. “This year, we are trying to transform Rondelet from a giant dance party to more of an entertainment show.”

According to the socials committee, this year’s Rondelet will be having live music performed by students from the Shepherd School of Music and dinner provided by three local food trucks offering Latin American, Cajun and classic American food. 

“Given that the entertainment is coming from our fellow Rice students, we hope that Rondelet will almost be more ‘family-oriented,’” Andrews wrote. “In the end, Rondelet 2021 will not look like anything Rice has really seen before. However, I think that just makes it more exciting.”

Despite these changes, RPC socials emphasize that the purpose of Rondelet remains the same as previous years, which is to create a fun night for students and bring the Rice community together. 

“We still believe that we will be able to create an enjoyable experience for many students and provide an opportunity to have a fun, formal event that has not yet been offered this year,” Barnett said.

RPC socials said that Rondelet will be one of the only formal events this year so they want to try their best to maintain this aspect of the event from previous years.

“We really wanted to preserve the formal aspect since students don’t have many opportunities during COVID-19 to dress up and go out, and especially since Esperanza [the fall formal event] deviated so much from traditional years,” Witt said. 

Regardless of the numerous changes and restrictions on the event, RPC Socials said that turnout has not been an issue. This year, Rondelet will have three waves from 6-10 p.m., with each consisting of 100 guests. 

“Within the first few hours of signups, all 300 spots were taken,” Andrews said. “Given that Rondelet is an event that happens every year, most people are already aware of what it usually consists of, relieving some of the advertising stress.”

Divya Jain, RPC president, said that sign-ups needed to be redone due to some guests signing up for multiple spots at the event. 

“With the COVID capacity limits in place this year, we wanted to make sure that as many students as possible could enjoy the event,” Jain said. 

For the future, RPC socials said they are excited to bring back traditional aspects like an off-campus venue and a formal dance. 

“We hope that as COVID-19 restrictions lift and when it is safe to do so, that Rondelet will transition back into an off-campus event to give students the opportunity to experience fun events outside of Rice,” Barnett and Givens said. 

[3/24/2021 at 1:45 p.m.] This story was updated with a quote from Divya Jain.

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