Editor's Note: Maeve McCormick, daughter of Meredith McCormick, is a writer on The Collegian's staff.
Ring Dance will not be held this spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dean of Westhampton College Mia Reinoso Genoni wrote in an email to students of the Westhampton College class of 2022 and their families on Oct. 1.
“To have an event of that importance and that magnitude, that has a particularly intimate and celebratory nature, and to have it be nothing like that ... we just couldn't see any way to do it right,” Genoni said in an interview with The Collegian.
Ring Dance celebrates Westhampton juniors’ transition from sophomore to junior year and their academic achievements, according to the University of Richmond’s website. The black-tie event is held at the Jefferson Hotel in downtown Richmond, where each student is introduced one by one and escorted by family down the Jefferson Hotel lobby's steps.
Junior Makayla Callender, president of Westhampton College Government Association class of 2022, said hosting Ring Dance during the pandemic presented too many barriers and that fewer people would be able to participate in the event.
“In the short term, we will create a committee of students from the class of 2022 to help us explore the possibility of a virtual option this spring, and what it might look like, as well as to consider how to celebrate the event for the class of 2022 in person when we are able to do so," Genoni wrote in the Oct. 1 email.
Westhampton juniors have until Oct. 15 to request a spot on the committee, according to Genoni’s email to Westhampton students.
Callender will be working with the student committee and Genoni to explore ideas for an in-person Ring Dance celebration for the class of 2022 to be held sometime during the 2021-22 academic year, she said.
"My plan is to coordinate with the deans and see how I can be of service, listen to students’ concerns and put ideas out there to feel the public’s interest," Callender said. "I'm here to listen to their concerns."
Meredith McCormick, UR '92, said she had hoped UR would cancel the celebration this year considering the risks of hosting that many people and having that many people fly into Richmond.
“With all the other [COVID-19] decisions and protocols, this shouldn’t be on the top of their list to figure out,” she said.
McCormick participated in Ring Dance in 1991, and her daughter Maeve, a junior at UR, was supposed to celebrate Ring Dance this spring.
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“I don’t think you can replace something like that virtually, so the best thing to do is see if they can postpone it,” McCormick said.
Ring Dance is believed to date back to the 1940s, but the first year of the celebration is unknown, according to a Collegian article published in February 2019. Genoni wrote in an email to The Collegian that Ring Dance has been held every year from 1969 up until 2020, but that UR’s earlier records are incomplete.
Students have already written to the Westhampton College deans' office asking to join the committee, Genoni said. More information will be shared with the public after the committee begins meeting, she said.
As of now, there are no concrete plans, but nothing's off the table, Genoni said.
"I want the students who are the ones that would be participating [in Ring Dance] to have a big voice on that. If somebody comes up with something that would at least feel good, even if it wouldn't truly replace Ring Dance, then I'm all for it."
Editor-in-chief Olivia Diaz contributed to reporting.
Contact features editor William Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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