WEB Murder Mystery brings students together for virtual detective work

Mo Dow, A&E Reporter

On Friday, March 12, WEB hosted a virtual murder mystery night, complete with bungling detectives, hidden clues and an abundance of prizes. The event was hosted over Zoom and was assisted by representatives of Bass/Schuler Entertainment, a company that specializes in college, festival and corporate markets. 

The mystery was set in 1977, and the crime of the evening, was murder. The representatives from the company played the roles of two private detectives working the case, Inspectors Shroyer and McIntyre. With their help, students worked their way through clues, hidden messages in audio tapes, and suspect testimonies. Their sleuthing was occasionally interrupted with optional games in which students could participate for a chance to win prizes, including 1970’s trivia and a captioning contest. 

Erin Zheng, a senior math and economics double major and the Special Event Director for WEB, helped organize the event. She was happy with how the event turned out, and was especially impressed by the hosts and how well they handled the online format. On her end, Zheng has also started to understand how to navigate online event planning in the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I think you need to make more attractive posters than before. They need to know what the event is like first, and then decide if they want to come,” Zheng said. 

Without little ability to attract a crowd as they would for an in-person event or increase participation through word of mouth, Zheng has learned that event planners need to rely more heavily on marketing and reach as many people as possible before the event starts. Accessibility is also an important consideration for Zheng, although technological difficulties are often hard to avoid. Despite a brief hiccup with the initial Zoom link, the Virtual Murder Mystery Night went about as smoothly as expected.

Another person who helped plan the event was Dorothy Mukasa, the Associate Director for the Student Activities Office. She was not only excited about the murder mystery night but also about future events the WEB staff has planned for the future. As more than just a night of fun or as a reprieve from the stress of classes, Mukasa sees this murder mystery night and events like it as a way to combat isolation and connect to the people in our community.

“I think these virtual events show us another way in which we can connect—in ways that are kind of uncomfortable, but this is how we can make sure it’s safe for everybody… I think one thing this year has shown us is that we can be very innovative in finding creative ways to connect virtually,” Mukasa said. 

Juli Dunn, the Senior Associate Dean of Students, echoed this sentiment. While she did not personally attend the event, she was instrumental in facilitating the Murder Mystery Night and is responsible for many events of its kind. 

“In this time when we need to be physically distant from one another and for some of our students training remotely this semester, I do think it is important to host a wide variety of events that all students, regardless of where they are currently located, can participate in,” Dunn said. 

Events like Murder Mystery prove that community fun can be had in innovative ways. By working through the challenges of putting on a virtual event, WEB was able to facilitate a memorable experience for attendees.