Lunar New Year celebrations canceled in wake of coronavirus

Published by Haley Potter, Date: February 12, 2020


THE CORONA VIRUS IS CONSIDERED AN INTERNATIONAL HEALTH EMERGENCY ACCORDING TO THE CDC.Haley Potter talked to Kristina Benkeser, the director of the student health center about what SRU is doing to monitor this virus. She also spoke to Dr. Sam Heikinen from the Global Engagement office about what this does for SRU study abroad participants.

Posted by WSRU-TV News on Tuesday, February 11, 2020


SRU’s Chinese Culture Association canceled their annual Chinese New Year Celebration because of the recent coronavirus outbreak. The event was scheduled for February 15th.

Dr. Wei Bian, an associate professor in the department of physical and health education and modern languages department, was the president of the Chinese New Year celebration this year and said that it was in SRU’s best interest to cancel the event for the first time since she came to SRU in 2007.

Bian said that news of the coronavirus came out in China during the time of the Lunar New Year, Jan. 25 through Feb. 8.

“When we heard the coronavirus news, I said ‘let’s still do the celebration because there are no problems at all here,’” Bian said. “Then as we were trying to prepare, more and more news from China came out and caused the faculty members some concern.”

The Chinese Culture Association is made up of mostly faculty members.

“I wanted to ask the faculty’s opinion about canceling the event,” Bian said. “Several other universities canceled their Chinese New Year celebrations because of the situation in China.”

Bian said she sent out a google form explaining the situation and asking the association their opinion on having the event. She received 14 responses and 11 of them said not to have the event out of respect for the people in China.

“The situation is very depressing and most of our family members are there and we have been exchanging the news with them,” Bian said.

She said that there have been over a thousand deaths and that the people in China were asked to stay home during the entire 15 days of the Lunar New Year.

“Our hearts are very heavy,” Bian said. “I pray every day, and we canceled the event for those people in China.”

She said that they had to cancel the event early enough to inform En Lai, who caters their food each year, and so that they could inform their sponsors.

Bian said the event will be back next year and will feature the same traditions that the community loves, such as Chinese yo-yos, food, calligraphy and performances.

“I already booked the venue for next year,” Bian said. “We are looking forward to celebrating the next New Year.”

She said that the crafts that were already purchased specific to this year’s New Year were donated to the daycare.

“This is a very scary situation for us, that is why we canceled our event,” Bian said.

SRU is also being proactive in preventing this virus from spreading to our community. Kristina Benkeser, the director of Student Health services said that the best way to avoid getting any kind of illness is to wash your hands, stay home if you are sick and avoid sharing soft drinks.

“Universities tend to have a larger number of international students and faculty and the virus has been close on breaks, so universities have been on high alert for that,” Benkeser said.

There is a sign beside the check-in counter at the health center telling patients to inform staff immediately if they have traveled to China in the last month.

“It is so that we can isolate that person and determine their reason for visit,” Benkeser said.

The Office for Global Engagement is also staying on high alert and checking the CDC daily, according to Dr. Sam Heikinen, the Associate Vice President of Global Engagement at SRU.

“We have reached out to all of our study abroad participants and we have let them know how we are monitoring the CDC developments,” Heikinen said.

He said that no spring break trips have been canceled but that they plans to push back sending visitors or receiving visitors from China.

If you are feeling ill, the SRU Student Health Center is open 24/7.

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Haley is a senior converged journalism major, and this is her fourth year contributing to the news section of The Rocket. This is her second year as a senior Rocket contributor and she focuses on campus and community news. Haley also contributes to the multimedia section of The Rocket, which goes hand-in-hand with her role as President of WSRU-TV News. After graduation, Haley hopes to continue her passion for reporting and become a broadcast news reporter or Multimedia Journalist at a local news station. Aside from The Rocket and WSRU-TV News, Haley is also a member of the Alpha Epsilon-Rho honor society, National Broadcasting Society, Lambda Pi Eta, and SRU's Project to End Human Trafficking.


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