By Collin Atwood
A Springfield College tradition that originated 60 years ago returned to campus this week at full strength. For the past two years, the week-long event known as Sti-Yu-Ka couldn’t reach its maximum potential due to the coronavirus. On Monday, April 18, the beloved events returned with no restrictions in sight.
Last year, the student-run Sti-Yu-Ka committee and Julie Koivisto, Assistant Director of Student Activities and Signature Programs, were limited in what they could do because of the virus. They couldn’t have the annual spring concert — some students participated virtually and hand sanitizer found its way into the activities.
Now that COVID restrictions have been mostly lifted across the country, Koivisto and the committee can run Sti-Yu-Ka the way it was intended when it began in 1962 by a group of students who wanted to find a way to have fun without drinking.
“The fact that we’re all going to be able to be together is really the most exciting piece of it all,” Koivisto said.
Sti-Yu-Ka kicked off just the way that she envisioned it would – together. This past Monday, 300 people gathered in the Student Union to see the comedic hypnotist, Dale K. That feeling of unity that Koivisto longed for was certainly in effect that night.
“That was a really great turnout,” Koivisto said. “No problems, no worries, no stress about masks. As long as you’re comfortable, we’re just going forward.”
After the rain postponed Tuesday’s plans, Wednesday kept the week rolling with the Out of the Darkness Walk and a community-wide favorite event: bingo. This year’s bingo theme was “Anything but a chair.” Students brought whatever they wanted to sit in for the night as long as it wasn’t a chair.
“It’s been a great week so far,” Koivisto said.
Planning the events for Sti-Yu-Ka is always a challenge, but the committee always finds a way to make it a week no one will forget. They essentially spend the entire school year brainstorming ideas and organizing the activities. It’s a huge responsibility for students to take on, especially when their school schedules are busy enough.
This year, Koivisto received a lot of help from Emma Garneau, a first-year student at Springfield majoring in communication sciences and disorders.
“She has taken on the reins for years to come,” Koivisto said.
When she entered college, she didn’t know what she wanted to get involved with. All she knew is that she wanted to be a part of the campus community in some way. With no other immediate extracurricular interests, she joined the Sti-Yu-Ka committee.
“I wanted to get involved on campus,” Garneau said. “I asked Julie and she got me involved and I’m very happy I did.”
Garneau did not have to experience Sti-Yu-Ka in a COVID world, but she knows that a majority of the campus did. Ever since she joined the committee, she has been trying to make sure this year’s events would be enjoyable.
“We wanted to make sure everything was fun for everybody and that they would have a good time,” Garneau said.
Garneau is also enjoying the event as a first time participant rather than a facilitator. The laughs shared at Monday’s event showed her how great the week of Sti-Yu-Ka can be.
The weekend events are only going to enhance everyone’s love for the tradition. Sti-Yu-Ka games and a Taste of Springfield will take place this Friday at 1 p.m. Sunday will include a Special Olympics Cornhole Tournament and the American Ninja Warrior and Wipeout courses that were supposed to take place on Tuesday.
Koivisto is especially looking forward to the return of the spring concert on Saturday, which will open with a performance by Sarah and the Sunday’s and end with Jesse McCartney. Other notable performers in the past include Lil Dicky, T-Pain and Lupe Fiasco.
This year’s theme is the 2000’s. McCartney, who shined during this time with his single, “Beautiful Soul,” fits perfectly within this theme.
“I’m really looking forward to Saturday. That’s going to be the big day for sure,” Koivisto said. “Just seeing everybody in their element will be the caveat of it all.”
Along with the concert will be a carnival. Food trucks, cotton candy, lava bracelets and airbrush hats are just some of the aspects of Saturday’s festivities. Koivisto wanted this year’s concert to feel like a festival where everyone could enjoy music while playing games and munching on some sweets.
Koivisto and her crew went all-in planning Sti-Yu-Ka this year. Executing their plan was tough because of the ever changing COVID regulations. Thankfully, everything ended up working out the way they wanted it to with no limitations.
“This year is definitely a redemption year,” Koivisto said.
Photo Courtesy Springfield College