Lehigh After Dark is a program that provides activities for students to socialize with their peers and destress after a long week. During a typical school year, attending a Lehigh After Dark event is a common way to meet new people.
In the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lehigh After Dark continues to host in-person events with social distancing guidelines as well as activities over Zoom.
Jenna Papaz, director of Health Advancement and Prevention Strategies, said Lehigh After Dark has planned events ranging from yoga on the lawn to movies under the stars. Other events include playlist bingo, live music at Farrington Square and paint your own pottery.
“We have had to readjust our expectations of what success looks like for 2020,” Papaz said. “Typically we use measurable goals by way of survey data to compare years, but since so much has shifted with the pandemic, we can’t use this same process.”
She said success to the organization is students being able to feel connected and engaged through virtual and in-person events. Papaz said they know students have been very grateful to attend planned in-person events because it allows them to meet new people, get out of their residence halls and gives them something to do.
She said they want to continue to support the students in this way.
“We have seen a really positive response from our outdoor yoga and movie nights, as well as our live music,” Papaz said. “We are trying to take advantage of the beautiful weather and program outdoors as much as possible.”
Kaylie Vu, ’24, and Dakota Feldman, ’24, both attended the movie night on the front lawn during orientation and said the event was a great experience.
Feldman said attending the event was an important way to meet new people and find something to do outside of the dorm. There were about 30 people who attended and social distancing was implemented, she said.
Vu said the social distancing at the event was some of the best that she has seen at Lehigh so far, but found it a little challenging to actually talk to people and feel engaged.
“Even though we were socially distanced, it was still refreshing to see other people’s faces in real life,” Vu said.
Papaz said Lehigh After Dark will continue to hold in-person events as long as attendees respect and abide by safety protocols. She said the program welcomes student applications if they have ideas for in-person or virtual events.
Clubs, athletic teams or other organizations are also welcome to sponsor a weekly trivia night or different event as well.
Papaz said Lehigh After Dark has been creative with its programming by exploring different strategies, including staggering start times, new programming spaces and a more interactive virtual platform.
She said depending on the event, the turnout of students has been better than expected given the circumstances.
“Our attendance is certainly not where it’s been in the past when it comes to our large scale events, which would see close to 1,000 students,” Papaz said.
Lehigh After Dark events are held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and are available to the entire campus community.