Dear beloved SUUSI community,
The Board and Core Staff would like to express our profound gratitude for all who are part of our SUUSI community, whether you have attended once or fifty times. You are the heart and soul of SUUSI.
The Board and Core Staff are charged with making decisions that are in the best interests of public health, the safety of our community members, SUUSI’s financial stability, and the strength of our bonds with each other. Given the lengthy timeline needed to put together all the elements of SUUSI, we have found ourselves with the dilemma of needing to make decisions now based on incomplete information about next July.
It is impossible to know at this time whether it will be safe to hold an in-person gathering in July of 2021. We cannot predict how widespread Covid-19 will be next summer, how broad the availability and acceptance of a vaccine will be, or how many people would be willing to attend a SUUSI that might require strict social distancing. Our host location, Western Carolina University, doubts whether they will be able to host on-campus gatherings next summer, and they will not have a definite answer in time to allow us to plan.
Under these circumstances, we have come to the difficult decision that we cannot plan for an in-person SUUSI 2021. The SUUSI Board has voted that SUUSI 2021 will be an entirely virtual event.
Many will be disappointed to hear this news. Many will be relieved to know that we are prioritizing safety. Many will feel a complicated mix of these emotions and others. This was a painful decision for SUUSI leadership to make. All of us value the traditionally immersive in-person SUUSI experience. We will miss playing together at Community Time or in a song circle, dancing together, sharing a table in the dining hall, and joining hands in worship.
Yet we are confident that “Love Brings Us Together,” as our 2021 theme reminds us. We know that, whatever the format, love will bring us together in the summer of 2021. The Core Staff are already making plans to improve and build on the virtual format we developed for SUUSI 2020, and we hope that, once this news has had some time to settle, you will be ready to join us in making our shared virtual experience the best that it can be.