KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A tradition that draws thousands to Sangren Plaza on Western Michigan University's campus every fall semester is getting a "Sims"-style makeover. For a second year, Bronco Bash will transform into Virtual Bash on Friday, Sept. 10, from 4 to 7 p.m. But this time, it will have a much more interactive reboot.
Students will create their own avatar to explore a virtual world created specifically for Broncos through an immersive online platform called Degy World. It includes a central campus area; an exposition hall with booths featuring dozens of Registered Student Organizations, clubs, campus and community resources, and local businesses; breakout rooms to catch up with old friends and meet new ones; and even a photo booth to snap pictures with avatars and post on social media.
"We really wanted to create a more engaging atmosphere," says Brad Kosiba, assistant director of campus engagement. "It will really feel like an actual virtual version of Bronco Bash. You can walk around, visit booths, talk with other attendees through your microphone and really explore the environment."
Virtual Bash is an opportunity for students to connect with the University, Kosiba adds, whether by exploring their passions through student organizations or learning about important resources and programs across campus.
"When I was a freshman, I didn't know what clubs to join. And attending Bronco Bash helped me see all that's offered—even things like jobs outside of campus," adds Jenna Kisell, a senior graphic design and marketing student and Virtual Bash intern. "It's a great place to meet people and make friends as well as bond with people you've just met."
This year, Virtual Bash organizers created a scavenger hunt with prizes available for the top finishers. All students who attend can also pick up bags filled with goodies from vendors the following week during the Swag Bag Drive-Thru. That event runs Friday, Sept. 17, from noon to 3 p.m. in the parking lot of Lawson Ice Arena. Students can both drive up and walk up to collect their swag. There will be performances by the Bronco Marching Band, a DJ and other live entertainment.
"We're trying to do this in a way to still keep students engaged, still entertained, but also keep everyone safe," says Kosiba. "It's going to be a lot of fun. We're excited about it."
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