University cancels Dance Marathon 2020 following “uncertainty surrounding COVID-19”


Daily file photo by Elizabeth Byrne

Students during Dance Marathon 2019.

Isabelle Sarraf, Assistant Campus Editor

COVID-19 News

As universities across the country re-evaluate plans for spring break and large events, University President Morton Schapiro said in a Wednesday email that Dance Marathon 2020 will be canceled “given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19,” also known as the novel coronavirus.

“The decision was not made lightly,” the email read. “We felt it was important to prioritize the health, safety and well-being of our students, Evanston community members and the University as a whole.”

The 30-hour annual philanthropy event was scheduled to begin Friday evening. More than 1,000 students typically participate.

Schapiro’s email said the cancelation was made in consultation with Northwestern’s COVID-19 policy group and health professionals, along with consideration of national recommendations on the virus.

“Given the prolonged duration of Dance Marathon, the close proximity of dancers and the strain it puts on participants, health experts thought those in attendance could have been at greater risk for illness had the event continued as planned,” the email read.

Currently, there are more than 100 cases of the virus reported nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control, although fewer are confirmed. Illinois has four confirmed as of Wednesday night.

NUDM 2020 executive co-chairs Eliana Scobey and Rachel Cantor addressed the news in a Wednesday email to dancers, expressing sadness over the decision and saying fundraising will continue for both beneficiaries, Children’s Home & Aid and the Evanston Community Foundation.

“Our hearts are broken over the sudden news of Northwestern’s decision to cancel NUDM,” their email read. “While we understand it would have been a health risk to hold NUDM this weekend given the spread of coronavirus, it doesn’t make knowing that our year-long fundraising and service efforts won’t culminate in the love, community, and home of the 30 hour experience.”

The executive co-chairs declined to speak to The Daily regarding the logistics of the cancellation.
Schapiro’s email didn’t discuss a potential rescheduling of the event but said in the upcoming weeks, University administrators will work with Dance Marathon’s executive board to “determine our next steps.”
McCormick senior Jenny Kim, NUDM production team member and stage manager, said she was shocked to hear that NUDM was canceled just two days before the scheduled start.

With the tent already raised outside Norris University Center, lights put up inside and hundreds of merchandise items ready to be distributed, NUDM dancers were not expecting to receive Schapiro’s email Wednesday afternoon, she said.

“This is my fourth year in DM and in the production committee,” Kim said. “I was really looking forward to being in the tent one last time. To have to miss out on that is really devastating.”

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Twitter: @isabellesarraf

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