On Saturday, Oct. 23, SVSU hosted its Fall Open House. The event was the first of its kind be- ing held on campus since before the COVID pandemic.
Tours took place across campus, with guests exploring various housing options as well as academic and recreational build- ings while getting to meet with faculty and staff.
Associate Director of Admis- sions Anderson Bearden said the event is imperative for incoming students to get a true feel for their potential alma mater.
“This is the one day of the year that students – especially stu- dents who are not fully decided on a major – can speak with faculties and see facilities for multiple different majors when they come for a tour,” Bearden said. “If they come during the week, the faculty are in those labs teaching our current students and so … this is their chance to really explore all the majors as well as Student Life offices and everything from the Honors program to marching band and everything in between.”
Being the first open house held in two years came with its own challenges, as the need to spread out the event was necessary to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Bearden said this challenge paired with staffing issues, became difficult while trying to create the same experience for guests as in years’ past.
“When almost every office on campus is short staffed and everybody being stretched thin to then try and do that, it really requires … more effort to try to plan it so that it can go off in two different places and not have a diminished product for the guests that are coming,” Bearden said. “We want to make sure that they don’t notice any difference. They walk in and they get everything they were looking for and they don’t realize that it used to be a little bit tighter, more compact and easier to get through.”
Finance sophomore Madelyn Rumsey is the tour coordinator for events like this as well as general tours throughout the week. She reinforced the struggles that have come up for her and the many student tour guides working the event. “This year has been more difficult than years before, mainly COVID has always added extra steps you have to jump through,” she said. “For our tour rooms, normally at an open house we can show rooms where people are living but right now because of COVID we have way (fewer) rooms than we normally do with the same amount of people who we expect to visit, about 600 people into six rooms while being COVID-friendly.”
Based on the number of guests RSVP’d and the anticipated 65% show rate, Bearden said this year’s event likely drew between 700 and 800 guests to campus. Bearden said this is slightly lower than in the past, but not by much considering the circumstances.
“In years, past, we didn’t have any restrictions, we didn’t have any of the obstacles or hurdles, not only that but the students didn’t have any obstacles or hurdles and restrictions,” he said. “It is not infrequent at all for us to have guests sign up for tours and events to say, ‘Oh, nope, my whole class is in quarantine now and I won’t be able to attend.’”
Rumsey said the main goal in training the tour guides for the event, many of whom have not seen an open house for themselves before now, is to emphasize catering to individual families even at largescale events like this.
“All of our tours are for the most part individual families, unless something comes up or there is a rare circumstance,” she said. “We personalize all of our tours and (the tour guides) get to see how we personalize it for them.”
The next opportunity for guests to come take an in-depth look at campus will be at Cardinal College Day on Saturday, Nov. 20 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.