MIXRonline was also used by RSGs to host faculty association events
The University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) agreed to a partnership with MIXRonline, to host certain 101 Week activities this year due to COVID-19. MIXRonline is a web call system, very similar to Zoom, however, it is advertised to be more entertaining. The website can have 150+ people in one call and their main slogan line is “Stop using boring video chats”.
According to Babacar Faye, the UOSU’s president, the entire collaboration cost the UOSU $22,000 to collaborate with MIXRonline and host two events. Faye said it averaged down to $2 per student per day, while it was free for students to attend. The $22,000 was taken out of the UOSU’s yearly budget as they spent less on in-person events this 101 Week. In 2019, the UOSU budgeted for $151,000 for 101 Week events and ended up with costs at $163,463.14. This year, they budgeted for $70,000 and confirmed as of Sept.16 having spent $59,000 (this includes the $22,000 for MIXRonline).
MIXRonline provides group music, online party games, and custom themes as some of its highlights. The UOSU used MIXRonline as a platform to host parties for first-year students to meet each other and socialize. This experience, however, was entirely different from what students would have experienced in a typical year going to Gatineau or Camp Fortune.
The UOSU had advertised their first MIXRonline event, booked for Sunday Sept.6 at 8 p.m which ran until 10:00 p.m. as a “real house party vibe”. There was another MIXRonline event, labelled as “Late Night MIXR Hangout” on Saturday Sept.12 which was also held at 8 p.m.
Upon attending one of the Sept.12 MIXR, the event had 22 participants and lacked discussion and participation. Guides were quiet, and many people slowly left the virtual party one by one. The students were from a range of ages from first-year to fifth-year, however very few contributed to the party environment. The event reached very few students in total.
The goal of the MIXRonline collaboration was to mimic the parties that usually happen during 101 Week. The president of the UOSU, Babacar Faye said the MIXR was divided into faculties so that people could meet others from their own field of studies while having the ability to make their own breakout rooms with students from other faculties.
Faye said he felt as if the Sep.6 event “was successful, as about 50 students showed up”. These events are also dry events, meaning students are not permitted to consume alcohol. Since this is an online event it is difficult for 101 Week guides to monitor alcohol consumption and therefore all the events have been non-alcohol events.
The Saturday MIXR event was promoted as a “good opportunity to meet other students from your faculty”. At the Saturday MIXR, only 23 students total showed up, and students were not separated into faculties. There was three “rooms” total which consisted of 6-8 people in each.
Recognized Student Governments (RSGs) also used MIXRonline although the statistic on the number of uses and number of students who attended the events are unknown. One of the RSGs who used MIXRonline quite a lot was the International, Political and Policy Studies Student Association (IPPSAA).
“IPPSSA used the MIXR platform as our primary social hub as most nights of our 101 Week that concluded with our scheduled MIXR events,” said Liam O’Brien, IPPSSA’s vp Social. “We found that MIXR best allowed us to translate 101 Week’s iconic nighttime events into an online space. Our first virtual 101 Week was successful largely in part to our heavy handed use of MIXR Online.”
One of the first-year students who participated in 101 Week was Adidja Mikiwa, a communications and political science student.
“[I was] able to meet people surprisingly as I thought it would be boring,” she said.
In the call, there was also fifth-year physics student Elizabeth Akbarally who participated in a variety of 101 Week activities, including Shine Day. Interested in meeting new people, Akbarally said that she felt as if 101 Week was “the best it could’ve been given it was all online” and that she also greatly enjoyed the trivia events.
Faye had expected that the Saturday Sept.12 event would be more successful than the previous MIXR as “the students will have time to learn about the website and will be more aware that the MIXR is happening”. However, less than half of the students that participated last time came to this event. While only 23 people came on Sep.12, over 1,800 students had signed up for different events and students were able to create their own MIXR rooms, meaning likely there were students socialized amongst themselves in private chat rooms.
Sarah Mackinnon, a fourth-year guide for 101 Week said that the events were “a hard thing to plan and that since it was really new for everyone it was good given the circumstances”. Mackinnon is in her final year of political science and philosophy and says she is “glad she did it and it was a good way to end her frosh guide experience”.
The guides for 101 Week and MIXR events were instructed to facilitate conversations with the first-year’s to encourage a lively dynamic throughout the event. However, they were also told to be mindful of their interactions with the first-year students and that they did need to be responsible and watch over the activities, which may have contributed to some of the quieter guides.
Despite the smaller turn out for this MIXR, those who participated claimed they had a positive experience, all students interviewed said that they enjoyed themselves and it was better than they thought for an online 101 Week.
-with files from Charley Dutil