In-person or online, fall events continue to fill Auburn’s calendar

Published: October 26, 2020
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Amid an unprecedented fall semester, Auburn University has continued to keep the Auburn Family connected through many in-person and virtual events.

Event offerings for the semester started strong, with 90 Welcome Week events for students. And that pace has continued, with a full slate of events filling the university’s calendar despite the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been an incredible fall full of lots of events,” said Brad Smith, assistant director of Student Involvement in Auburn’s Division of Student Affairs, adding that “our University Program Council has spent a lot of energy creating a lot of different events, both in-person, virtual and hybrid. They’ve had a virtual comedian event, a virtual concert, and they've had a bunch of outdoor films. They’ve also really revamped a program called Tiger Nights, which are events that happen on the Campus Green and in the Harold D. Melton Student Center, mostly on Thursday and Friday nights.”

Smith said the university’s Emerge leadership development program has continued with a variety of in-person and virtual small group meetings, and the Student Government Association has also moved forward full steam ahead with its offerings—most recently to include the university’s annual Hey Day event, one of Auburn’s longest-running traditions that dates back to the end of World War II. The event started as a way for veterans returning back to school to be seen, known and appreciated on campus. Students were encouraged to wear a name tag and greet their peers with a “hey!” This year’s event featured both in-person and virtual options so students, staff, alumni and friends could participate from any location.

Smith said such events are all about connecting the Auburn Family.

“In Student Affairs, our mission is to create a meaningful and welcoming environment,” he said. “And we have been working to put on as many events as we can in a safe manner to ensure that we're promoting a student's academic success, their overall health and wellbeing and, most importantly, helping them build community with their peers in the process so that they have the great Auburn student experience that we have every year.”

Through it all, Smith said proper safety protocols have been followed.

“Some of the things that we've been doing to make sure that we have safe events is really revamp our check in process,” he said. “So, when students arrive at a meeting or an event or really any activity, they have to show their A Healthier U Guide Safe green screen in order to be able to get into that event.”

Students can receive a green screen “passport” to attend events if they are approved based on their answers to a COVID-19-related questionnaire in the Guide Safe app.

“Another thing that we do is we have students scan a QR code in order to register their attendance at events to make sure that we're keeping the numbers at a safe amount as well as to be able to contact trace if we need to,” Smith said, adding that event workers also make sure all attendees are wearing masks and that hand sanitizer is readily available.

Smith said there definitely is no shortage of event offerings from which students can choose, and it’s easy to find such event information online by visiting Student Affairs’ AU Involve website.

“AU Involve is the place to go for all of your student involvement opportunities and needs,” he said. “It's kind of like the Google for involvement.”

Beyond student events, Auburn’s Gogue Performing Arts Center also has provided a plethora of options for the community this fall, and more events are to come.

“Even amid the pandemic, we’re still very, very active in supporting the mission of the university and that of the Gogue Center,” said Christopher Heacox, the center’s executive director.

Heacox said the center has offered many virtual performances and will present its upcoming GPAC LIVE: Alabama Artists Series with livestreamed concerts in October, November and December. He said the center also is providing virtual school performances for K-12 students in the community and across the state as well as online master classes for Auburn University students.

“Though we’re unable to welcome full audiences to the Gogue Center at this time, we’re still moving forward with programming and educational initiatives and preparing for the time when we’re able to start bringing people—both patrons and artists—back to the theatre,” he said.

Regarding in-person season events that had been slated for January and beyond, Heacox added that “We are in constant communication with our artists’ managers and agents regarding their scheduled performances so that we can communicate all schedule updates to our patrons as soon as they are permitted to be announced.”

Heacox said that when patrons are eventually allowed to return to the Gogue Center, there will be some safety and physical distancing protocol adjustments.

“We’ll be sending all performance tickets to patrons in a digital format now to eliminate hand transmission between people,” he said. “We’ll also have new protocols at our concession stands when we reopen, including some prepackaged grab-and-go and order ahead options to help shorten lines.”

As for audience seating when events are able to return to the Gogue Center, he said university and state guidelines would be followed, with physical distancing of patron seating groups by at least six feet in all directions. A seating group would allow for family members to sit together.

In addition to that, Heacox said enhanced cleaning protocols are already in place.

“The building is being cleaned more often,” he said. “We have electrostatic misters so that we can mist different areas and keep them sanitized.”

Heacox said those interested in Gogue Center events for this fall and beyond should visit www.goguecenter.auburn.edu.

“From there, you can sign up for our new e-newsletter, which we distribute during the first week of every month,” he said. “It has information about rescheduled performances, upcoming virtual events and livestream concerts, and educational opportunities. You can find this information on our social media channels, on Facebook and Instagram, as well.”

For a look at all of Auburn’s campus events, those interested can also visit calendar.auburn.edu.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.