Due to weather concerns, the University of New Mexico’s Silent Lights — a twist on a traditional homecoming dance — will be held indoors at Johnson Gym on Nov. 5, despite it being at an outdoor venue since its inception in 2016. Attendees will not be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, but only current UNM students will be allowed entry to the event.
Students must show either their UNM ID or a government-issued ID along with their UNM ID number to get in, according to student activities specialist Rudy Montoya. Guests are not allowed in, said Ethan Rule, director of marketing at University Communication and Marketing. He said this differs from previous years so the organizers can account for vaccination status since UNM students must either be vaccinated or have an exemption.
Because the event was almost canceled due to weather the last time it was held in 2019, Student Special Events (SSE) didn’t want to take the risk this year since “difficulties with security detail” delayed the event to the colder month of November, according to executive director of SSE Devin Padilla-Munson. However, he said that having the dance in Johnson Gym solves not only weather issues but also the security issues.
“Silent Lights was traditionally held outside in Smith Plaza. Looking back at late October 2019, the weather was pretty inclement and it nearly didn't happen,” Padilla-Munson said. “This semester, a couple factors pushed the event back later than we hoped. Seeing that we were getting late into the fall again, it was just too much money to gamble on the weather being fair.”
2019’s Silent Lights only boasted about 3,000 people, similar to numbers from 2018. Padilla-Munson surmised that this low attendance was due to weather.
Because the event is being held inside, masks are required. In terms of enforcement, Padilla-Munson said, “Students are responsible for their own safety and should be aware of UNM’s guidelines.” Montoya does not suspect that masks will be a point of contention at the event.
“Many of our events thus far have been met with compliance on masks. We keep on top of gentle reminders but haven't had issues,” Montoya wrote to the Daily Lobo. “Another avenue we have is sharing important information (about maintaining COVID-19 safety mandates) at the DJ booths if we have to.”
SSE is eager to put on this event for UNM students following last year’s limitations in holding events on campus due to the pandemic.
“We are super excited to provide events like Silent Lights to the student body. Students have been so eager to participate in campus culture now that we are exiting tough times,” Padilla-Munson said.
Zara Roy is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @zarazzledazzle