The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted many of the social norms and routines that feed our sense of community. Among these at Bennington College is Trivia Night, a decades-old tradition where students would gather in a space on campus fixed up with tables, chairs, and a PA system. Now, trivia is hosted via Zoom by Louis Celt and Charlotte Zinsser of the Programming and Activities Council.
Shifting the event online was difficult at first, they said, but in a couple of months it became the new normal. Attendance has been lower than when the events were held in person; they typically attracted over a hundred people, whereas one game this term had only three teams competing. Still, the competition over Zoom has been just as lively as when it was in person. Students joining the call from campus teamed up with housemates or friends to answer the trivia questions, which were fall-themed for Long Weekend, and students playing remotely joined with their family members. Each round of questions was sent to players through a Google Form that they were given ten minutes to fill out. Following each round, answers were revealed, and with each one, the delight or misery of each muted participant was visible on screen as they discovered whether they had been correct.
Although the Internet has allowed for Trivia Nights to continue during this isolating time, it has also presented challenges. On Friday, one team had so much difficulty accessing the trivia questions that they were unable to participate entirely. Additionally, “we sense that there may be some cheating going on,” admits Celt—after all, it is harder to detect that someone is searching the Web for an answer when you aren’t in the room with them. Regarding turnout, he recognizes that students who spend a large amount of time on Zoom for classes may not often want “to join another Zoom event.” To this, Zinsser adds that “people really miss the… physical experience of being at trivia.” For these reasons, they are hoping to hold future Trivia Nights at the Student Center, while still giving people the option to participate remotely.
As members of the Programming and Activities Council, Celt and Zinsser have their hands in several campus-wide events that aim to engage and connect the Bennington community. Follow @pacbennington and @benningtoncollegeose to stay informed about upcoming events.