Virtual Pantherpalooza held Monday night

Kyara Morales-Rodriguez, Staff Reporter

On Monday, Eastern held its biannual Pantherpalooza, an event that helps Eastern students learn about the various registered student organizations (RSOs) available on campus.

In past years, Pantherpalooza has been held at the Grand Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. Union.

In this post-Covid world, Eastern had to hold Pantherpalooza in a way that promoted social distancing. This semester, Eastern held Pantherpalooza through a website called CampusGroups.

The website allowed RSOs to set up virtual booths and video conferences in which RSO representatives could talk with interested students.

Sixty-five RSOs and hundreds of students participated in Pantherpalooza, with many students showing interest in the various RSOs available on campus.

Students had mixed feelings about the way Pantherpalooza was held this year, with some students loving it and others not so much.

Khristopher Stevens, a junior German and corporate communications major, represented German Club at Pantherpalooza as the RSO’s president.

German Club is an RSO meant to expose German culture, language, and traditions to the community. Stevens said he adjusted okay to virtual Pantherpalooza.

“We’ve gotten more people than last year so that’s a plus,” Stevens said. “I would say it’s been a very successful adjustment. I can’t complain.”

Initially, Stevens did not agree with Pantherpalooza being virtual because he loved how it was run in past years.

However, seeing how Pantherpalooza worked out changed his mind.

“I will admit that I did underestimate how this would work. I would say this has been successful, and it hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be,” Stevens said. “I had no idea how they were going to do it, but they did it, and they did it really well.”

Not all students felt super comfortable with Eastern’s virtual Pantherpalooza, one being Chad Rosenblum, a junior criminology student.

Rosenblum attended Pantherpalooza to represent Pre-Law Society, an RSO focused on helping students prepare for law school, as the organization’s president.

Rosenblum found the website Eastern used for Pantherpalooza not very user-friendly.

“[This website] is very unintuitive. I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall when I’m trying to work with it. I was somewhat confident that I was not going to see anybody because people would not be able to find stuff,” Rosenblum said. “It’s so hard to maneuver.”

Rosenblum thought Pantherpalooza could have been held in-person if Eastern had taken the proper precautions.

“I don’t necessarily see the issue with, instead of just doing [Pantherpalooza] in a quad, having it done all across campus. You could have 30-40 feet between every table,” Rosenblum said. “I think it’s going to hamper the amount of people who get to enjoy Pantherpalooza when it’s a 20-minute war just to get to one RSO’s page.”

Olivia Crank, a senior math education student and Student Education Association president, represented her RSO, which helps future educators through professional development and community engagement.

Like Rosenblum, she had trouble with the website Pantherpalooza was held on.

“This CampusGroups website is a beast with many layers,” Crank said. “We really had to modify stuff and get used to [CampusGroups].”

Katie Malley, a senior corporate communications student, represented the EIU Wesley Foundation, a campus student ministry, as the RSO’s president.

At first, she faced difficulty adjusting to virtual Pantherpalooza, but overall, she liked how the event was run.

“I think [virtual Pantherpalooza] is a cool concept because we’re all in one place. It’s a good way to meet with other people and put events out there,” Malley said. “I think it could be something great if we continue to work on it.”

Katherine Monatelli, a junior psychology student, represented Cause for Paws as the organization’s president.

The RSO allows students to support the animal shelters in the area through fundraising and volunteering. Monatelli also had problems with the online format initially but eventually came to like it.

“I think [Pantherpalooza] did pretty well for the circumstances. I really agree with not having an in-person Pantherpalooza. [Eastern] made a really good choice doing that,” Monatelli said.


Kyara Morales-Rodriguez can reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]