The University of New Mexico’s Student Union Building kicked off the spring semester with a back to school bingo night on Friday, Jan. 29. Only four students attended, which is the lowest group Uni Nights have had since switching to virtual events. Coincidentally, the Student Activities Center (SAC) hosted a drag bingo night the week before with over 130 students participating.
While drag bingo isn’t quite the same as the more traditional event, the two are similar enough to question the scheduling process of events for both departments. Andrea Marquez, the SAC advisor in charge of coordinating events like drag bingo, said the SAC specifically planned its bingo night earlier in the term because students would have to quarantine after coming to the dorms from out of town.
Marquez said they try to meet with various campus entities about every two weeks to report on the upcoming events departments have planned to schedule accordingly. She added that communicating with everyone has become more difficult now that a majority of the SAC staff are working from home, so it's possible to have an overlap in different events.
As a result, the SAC hosted a virtual karaoke night at the same time as the SUB’s bingo night, but Marquez said she didn’t know the SUB had already planned an event that day. While the back to school bingo night only had four students, SAC specialist Anna Gay said not a single soul signed up to sing at the karaoke night, and the event was canceled.
Before the more puritanical bingo night took place, SUB projects coordinator Anders Flagstad said all University departments are bringing in unique aspects to try and give students activities they will enjoy. Flagstad said that even if there are similar events in the same month, it’s not a problem because it gives students more options.
UNM senior Shelby Ramey went to the drag bingo night because she said she likes to be competitive, but she forgot about the back to school bingo and showed up toward the end of the last game before the raffle drawing. She said it might have been better if the two events were spread out more so students could have more of a break from bingo.
“Maybe there would have been more people tonight if (drag bingo) wasn’t last week,” Ramey said. “If it wasn’t so close together, people probably would have remembered.”
Ramey added that more people might have gone if it had a stronger theme like the drag bingo night did. She said the event could have waited a few more weeks and done something related to Valentine’s Day.
A few days after the back to school bingo night, the SUB announced they will be having a Valentine’s Day craft event where students can come to the front desk on Feb. 11 and pick up free materials to make their own Valentine’s Day crafts at home.
Freshman Vanessa Mascarenas also went to both bingo events and agreed that it might have been better if the events were spread out more. Despite winning one of the rounds at the drag bingo night, Mascarenas said she felt like she could be more comfortable at the smaller event since there were only four players.
Everyone at the SUB bingo night was encouraged to turn their cameras on in order to get an extra entry in the raffle for one of three $25 Amazon gift cards. Mascarenas said her roommates didn’t want to join the game because they thought they would have to introduce themselves on camera.
“I feel like quarantine has made everyone a little bit more antisocial than usual, so I feel like students would be more open to going to bingo nights where they don’t specifically have to have their camera on or they can just type ‘bingo’ instead of saying it when they win,” Mascarenas said.
Sophomore Araceli Ramirez said she wasn’t able to go to the drag bingo night because it was on a Thursday and she had a lot of homework, but she was glad the SUB had their bingo night on a Friday because it fit in her schedule better.
“I think it's pretty fun that if you miss one night of bingo night, you get to go to another one and it’s a different organization holding it,” Ramirez said. “Every student's schedule is different, so it all depends on the student as well.”
Everyone who attended the back to school bingo night was offered Lobo merchandise prizes like hats, cups, mugs, blankets and more. Students that attended the back to school bingo event were able to pick them up from the SUB. Flagstad said the remaining prizes will be saved for future events.
Daniel Ward is a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter at @wordsofward34