Sometimes the party can’t go on. The 2019-2020 school year is the 100th anniversary of the Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication. To celebrate the centennial, a large party was planned for April 25, the Saturday of the Drake Relays. But with the outbreak of COVID-19, plans have changed.
In an effort to promote social distancing and keep attendees safe, the SJMC centennial party will be held next spring as a “100 plus one” celebration.
“There were a lot of really fun details that we had thought of, and we didn’t want to lose that, but we certainly want to keep everyone safe and healthy,” said Kelly Bruhn, SJMC associate dean.
Bruhn and SJMC Dean Kathleen Richardson had been planning the event alongside alumni, faculty and students for the past year and a half.
“We both worked with an advertising class last year, and they came up with the logo and some taglines,” Bruhn said. “They came up with fun things, like a signature drink. They had lots of really great ideas about nontraditional ways that we could celebrate the centennial that we hadn’t [done] before.”
Richardson had been working to make some of those ideas a reality. She had worked with vendors to organize t-shirt screen printing and a centennial beer from a local West Des Moines brewery, Fox Brewing.
All of these ideas will be executed next year, according to Richardson. However, one idea that will still come to fruition this spring is an online marketplace of swag. Richardson said that SJMC and centennial-oriented merchandise — such as t-shirts, sweatshirts and notebooks — will be available online starting the week of April 20.
Still, not being able to return to campus this spring is a crushing blow to alums that have come back every year since graduation. Many Bulldogs return to reconnect with friends and faculty.
“We celebrate you, not only when you’re at Drake, but beyond when you have babies, promotions, you run companies and do really cool stuff,” Bruhn said. “It’s really fun for me to see all of you in person again and to get to celebrate all of those great accomplishments and just reconnect.”
Recent graduates, including Rebecca Perl, May 2019 graduate, were equally disappointed to not have the opportunity to return to campus.
“COVID-19 killed all vibes, especially the vibes that I, as an alum, was excited to experience at the [SJMC] centennial during Relays,” Perl said via text. “I was so excited to celebrate 100 years of the best place on Earth.”
While the big centennial event has been moved to 2021, Chris Snider, SJMC multi-media professor, has been tasked with creating virtual Relays events during the week the 2020 Relays would have been held.
“To be honest, we are sort of making things up as we go along,” Snider said via email. “One of my classes did brainstorm ideas for an online Relays before spring break, so some ideas came from there.”
Part of the centennial celebration included recognizing the retirement of Professor Todd Evans. To make up for this, Snider has set up a couple of live online videos with Todd Evans as well as Dorothy Pisarski, who is also retiring at the end of the semester.
Being forced to use new technology he’s never used before is what excited Snider the most about taking on these projects. He has a few tricks up his sleeve he can’t wait to share.
“I do have a couple things in the works that will be shared on our SJMC Facebook page and other social media,” Snider said via email. “I don’t want to spoil the surprise quite yet though.”
Richardson stressed the importance of still connecting as people around the world learn how to party, celebrate and stay in touch remotely. Even with the event not going on as planned, spirits are optimistic about its future.
“Hopefully, when it happens, it’ll be great,” said Christi Shallenkamp, a senior advertising major working on the event as part of her independent study. “But even if it’s a year down the line, that just means that they can plan it more and make it better. Who knows, the coronavirus might be the best thing that’s happened for this event.”
More details about the 100 plus one celebration in 2021 will be made available in fall 2020. To stay up to date, visit www.drakesjmc100.com.