Honors College cancels H4 retreat for incoming freshmen

Minton Hall MASTER Plan students practice cheers learned at the H4 Honors retreat before heading to Diddle Arena for the MASTER Plan convocation. Hundreds of WKU freshman move in early for MASTER Plan. William Kolb/HERALD

Leo Bertucci

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted WKU’s Mahurin Honors College to cancel the annual H4 Retreat in Tennessee for its incoming freshman class.

The Honors College announced on Tuesday that the in-person retreat had been cancelled. A virtual retreat will take place from Aug. 10-13.

Craig Cobane, the executive director of the Honors College, said that the recent COVID-19 positive case trends in Tennessee, where the retreat is held, influenced his decision to cancel the retreat.

According to the New York Times, Tennessee’s average COVID-19 case count as of July 28 has risen by 28 percent in the past two weeks.

“H4 at the beginning of the school year is my second favorite time of the year,” Cobane said. “So as disappointed as the incoming scholars are, we here in the college are probably crushed even more.”

Cobane said that students who have already paid to attend the in-person retreat will receive a full refund. The refund will be applied to their university billing account. Cobane said that he does not know how long it will take for a refund to be processed.

The Honors College has not cancelled any other of their other in-person events yet, but officials are preparing alternative programming if necessary, Cobane said.

“We’re doing parallel planning for a virtual experience,” Cobane said.

Cobane said the schedule for the virtual retreat would be different because there will not be time allotted for outdoor activities. During the virtual retreat, the incoming freshmen are still expected to learn about what it means to be an Honors College student.

“One of the themes in the college is ‘to those much is given, much is expected,’” Cobane said. “So we talk to them (about) how they can become agents of change, how much can they make a difference in their community.”

If the H4 Retreat took place in-person, it would have been held at Deer Run Camps & Retreats in Thompson’s Station, Tennessee. Deer Run announced in June that it would be cancelling its youth summer camps. Cobane said that Deer Run’s decision to cancel its youth summer camps did not influence his decision to cancel the H4 Retreat because the youth campers do not spend the night at Deer Run.

“We were going to have the entire Deer Run facility to ourselves,” Cobane said. “There was going to be no day camps. We were going to be on a three to four day retreat. So in that regard we were much more isolated.”