Pacific University’s ACE Board hasn’t had an easy job lately. With the ever-changing situation of COVID-19, the team has had to perform a balancing act, finding ways to make in-person events COVID safe, while also creating fallback solutions to bring events online.

Back in November, ACE Board had planned an in-person screening of the horror film Antebellum. But when Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced new criteria for the state banning in-person gatherings until case counts reached a set low, the team was forced to pull the plug.

As a result, ACE Board had to brainstorm ways to bring entertainment to Pacific’s online community–a challenge that called for unprecedented flexibility.

“Our whole job is centered around bringing entertainment to campus,” said Marketing Chair Rylee Skidmore. “And when you can’t do it in person, you have to adapt to everything.”

In search of answers, ACE Board turned to Swank, the platform they use for licensing films for in-person screenings. Here, they found a solution in the form of the online streaming platform Swank Digital Campus. On Saturday, February 20th, November’s canceled Antebellum screening was moved to an all-day streaming link, where students could log on and watch the film for free at any time during the 24 hour period.

“It was a way we could continue showing movies while in shutdown,” said Skidmore. But it wasn’t just movie nights that ACE Board had to adapt online. The team has addressed nearly every university event and invented creative ways to bring entertainment to Pacific’s community while staying COVID safe.

One such event will be the first hybrid Open Mic Night of the spring semester on March 5th. While performers will be in-person–with a small, socially-distanced audience of only 50–remote students and others who would like to join in will be able to stream it live via Zoom. 

Just a week earlier, on February 26th, was the first Game Night hosted on the Undergraduate Student Senate’s brand-new “Boxercord” Discord server. Jackbox game nights had previously been happening via Zoom, but from here on out, these game nights will be weekly events hosted on Discord, with open play starting at 7 pm, followed by a traditional Jackbox night at 8:00–prizes and all.

Pacific’s Boxer Radio is also seeing some changes and brand-new content coming soon, including an astrology-themed show, a gaming show, and podcast episodes that will be available outside of the regular radio stream.

As ACE Board continues to adapt to the constantly changing COVID situation, advisor Pete Erschen feels that the team has really risen to the challenges they’ve faced. 

“I could point to dedication and creativity from every member of this team,” Erschen said. “It would be easy to just give up and walk away. But we don’t. We keep trying things.”

As COVID numbers continue to decline, ACE Board is hoping they can begin to hold more in-person events. However, they’re also well-aware of the reality of the situation.

“I think it’s kind of in the back of our heads that at any moment, things could spike back up,” said ACE Board chair, Julian Bunch. “But we do have our infrastructure ready for if that does happen.”

ACE Board’s first hybrid Open Mic Night will be happening tonight, March 5th, at 8:00 on Zoom and in the MPR. Sign up to watch the performance in person or on Zoom, and get more information on upcoming ACE Board events at linktr.ee/ace_board. — Bren Swogger

Photo: ACE Board’s last hybrid Open Mic Night in the MPR on Nov. 6th, 2020. This year’s first hybrid Open Mic will be held on March 5th in the MPR and on Zoom (Lily McIlvenna)

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Bren Swogger is a journalism major at Pacific University Class of 2021. They currently live in Oregon City, OR. They also write for Vortex Music Magazine in Portland.

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