CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Black Panther and Hidden Figures were being shown on Memorial Stadium’s scoreboards, but the real show Friday night was seeing thousands of students together for the first time this semester.
“It’s a good way for people to get out of their dorms, come here, socialize a little bit in a safe way,” says freshman Matt Lazotte. “Just a good way to have a good time without risking shutting down and going into quarantine for two weeks.”
Only students were allowed at the twin billing. Each one had to have their Student ID and their Safer Illinois App that shows they’ve been granted building access. Students there are required to maintain social distancing at all times and also wear a mask. The Student Affairs Office wanted an environment of being together will still staying apart.
“You can put people in certain sections and allow them to separate into their small groups of friends, but still be with other people and have a shared experience. That was really the goal,” says spokesperson Robin Kaler.
State guidelines let the stadium be filled with up to 12,000 people, but the max capacity for movie night was set at just under 4,000. The effort given by the University to give students something to do was not lost on them.
“The fact that they are trying to give us a little bit of normalcy in a time where there’s so much restriction, it’s more motivation to show how much that we as students appreciate the school because of how much they’re trying to reach out to us in such a weird time,” says freshman Caren Morris.
The events will continue after the weekend. Starting Sept. 24, Memorial Stadium will have Thursday movie nights through October. Fridays will be variety acts, and Saturdays will be concerts.