Members react to BYU Women’s Conference cancellation

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Women gather in the BYU Marriott Center during a May 2017 Women’s Conference session. (Ari Davis)

BYU Women’s Conference announced last week that the conference will not be held on the BYU campus as originally scheduled on April 30 and May 1 due to COVID-19 concerns.

Members who were planning on attending are now dealing with canceled travel plans, reimbursed tickets and disappointment.

Tooele resident Patricia Cook has attended the BYU Women’s Conference for the past eight years. She said she thinks the decision to cancel this year’s conference was made too hastily.

“I feel the decision made seven-and-a-half weeks before the actual event was too quick,” she said. “I wish they would have waited until at least the first part of April to see if this social distancing works and stops or drastically slows down the virus.”

Cook is one of thousands of women who were planning on gathering at the BYU campus for this year’s conference. Officials with the program office said they are looking into streaming options and will provide more information when available.

“I would have still been disappointed to see it canceled anytime — this is one of my very favorite times of the year,” Cook said. “It’s a time for me to rejuvenate and connect with friends and other women as a woman and not just as a mom. I think my disappointment would have been less depressing if there had been more time taken to actually see what was going to happen versus the too quick response I felt was made.”

South Carolina resident Naomi Newbold agreed that the decision to cancel may have been made too soon, but she said she still supports the conference committee’s judgment.

“I understand and applaud the conference being canceled due to the circumstances of COVID-19,” she said. “I do wonder if the decision was made prematurely as this virus situation could be done and over with by the end of April, but I trust the conference committee that they were and are making the best decisions possible for the conference.”

Newbold has attended almost all of the Women’s Conferences since 2005 and described her experiences as “marvelous.”

“I have always felt so uplifted and empowered after every conference,” she said.

Sonya Crasper was planning on traveling from Idaho Falls to attend this year’s Women’s Conference. She originally learned about the conference 15 years ago when a classmate asked her to take notes for her while she attended with her mom and sisters.

“I had no idea what she was talking about,” she said. “I shared this newfound information with my mom and sisters and every year, starting in 2006, whoever can make it goes. Women’s Conference is a time for me as a wife, mother and daughter of God to rejuvenate my soul. I love the sisterhood and the feeling of love and service that floods the BYU campus.” 

Though she won’t be able to gather with other women on the BYU campus this year, Crasper said she feels the decision to cancel the conference “was the correct decision to make.”

Cook, Newbold and Crasper all said they would still participate if the conference is streamed online.

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