Long-Distance Laughs

By Leah Aulisio-Sharpe ’22, April 9, 2020
IC’s student activities board will host a virtual comedy show on April 14, as part of their adjusted offerings.

As Ithaca College has shifted to remote instruction as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, campus organizations have had to make adjustments of their own as well.

The college’s Student Activities Board (SAB) typically spends the year putting together fun, engaging on-campus events for the college community such as live shows and movie screenings. And while the on-campus aspect of that has changed, its members are determined to prove that the show does indeed go on.

“Just because IC has moved to remote instruction does not mean that SAB stops being a fully functioning organization,” said executive chair Madeline Veneziano ’20. “A huge part of event planning is adapting when things don’t go as planned, so all we are doing is adapting to the current situation.”

A prime example of this flexibility is the organization’s rescheduling of a performance by comedian Jen Kober, which was scheduled to appear on campus on March 24. After it was determined that the show was not going to be able to be held on campus, Kober’s representatives reached out to the SAB regarding the possibility of a “quarantine comedy” performance, which could be viewed online. The show is now scheduled for April 14.

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More information about upcoming SAB events can be found by following them on social media:

There was a bit of a concern, Veneziano said, because students living at home have access to all kinds of stand-up comedy through streaming services such as Netflix. But she believes that Kober’s show will still be something students won’t get elsewhere.

“Comedians are working hard to make sure that these shows are really tailored to the college they are performing for,” she said. “Students will be watching a unique comedy performance, and we think that will be a big incentive.”

Kober’s performance isn’t the only thing still on the table for the SAB. They're hosting a virtual DJ party on April 16 from 8 to 10 p.m. featuring DJ Washburn, an IC alumnus. There’s also an ongoing Instagram contest where students can create a TikTok and win gift cards from local businesses, and another virtual comedy show in the works.

“We now have new opportunities to program to the campus community in different ways,” Veneziano said. “Everyone on the SAB executive board has really stepped up to the plate and made the most out of this situation.”

“I think that entertainment is needed now more than ever as a distraction from what’s going on in the world. If our events can make someone’s day a little brighter, then we have succeeded.”

Maddie Veneziano ’20, SAB executive chair

Outside of their work, SAB members have also realized the importance of connection and empathy during this time. When they have their weekly virtual meetings, they spend a significant amount of time allowing members to check in and share how they are feeling.

“I think those check-ins are extremely important now,” Veneziano said. “I’ve been sure to let the board members know that if they feel overwhelmed, it’s okay to skip a meeting and take time for themselves.”

Despite some challenges, Veneziano said the SAB is still committed to their mission of entertaining IC students, even though they’re not on South Hill.

“I think that entertainment is needed now more than ever as a distraction from what’s going on in the world,” she said. “If our events can make someone’s day a little brighter, then we have succeeded.”

Michele Lenhart, director of IC's office of student engagement, said that Veneziano has done a wonderful job of leading the members of the SAB.

"Maddie is the kind of leader who makes everyone around her a better person," Lenhart said. "She motivates her peers to take initiative, supports their ideas and helps them complete tasks in an efficient and effective way. She communicates her vision clearly, and is sure to use a democratic style of leadership so that every member is included in decision making. And her optimism is contagious — people love working with her!"