In a move that has puzzled some, the Tasmanian University Student Association (‘TUSA’) has relocated its annual clubs and societies day off campus to the Goods Shed because of COVID-related concerns. The date of the event has also been moved to March the 23rd .
In its statement to representatives from clubs and societies affected by the change, TUSA suggested the move was necessary because current capacity limits and other COVID-safety requirements under university guidelines prevented an event the size of clubs and societies day from going ahead on campus. The association also pointed out that the move would make the day more accessible for students and allow attendees to move on to nearby pubs and clubs in the city centre to keep the festive spirit flowing. A quoted $20,000 would also be saved from installing the necessary safety measures required to hold the event on the lower oval of the university campus, which TUSA claims will be redirected toward clubs and societies.
The event, however, will now be held at the Goods Shed, which is a much smaller venue that combines indoor and outdoor spaces. Some have questioned the move from a public health and safety perspective, as the risk of a COVID-19 transmission event occurring is greater. The TUSA has divided the event into two sessions in an attempt to mitigate this.
Held on Wednesday of next week, TUSA’s clubs and societies day also comes amid a surging number of COVID-19 cases in the state. With 1779 cases recorded last Friday, lutruwita/Tasmania hit a new record of 9105 active cases, surpassing the previous peak in January. The rise in cases has been attributed to the highly infectious subvariant of the Omicron strain BA.2, which according to Public Health director Mark Veitch, is now widespread in the state.
Clubs and societies will now have to decide if the benefits of publicity and selling memberships on the day outweigh the risks posed by hosting an event which may attract thousands of attendees.