As Southern prepares to open for the Fall 2020 semester, Student Association (SA) Social Vice President Nadine Peteros is also making plans for this school year’s SA events. But with COVID-19 concerns in mind, there are a lot of new precautions Peteros and her team have to consider.
The first event of the year is the SA Welcome Party, scheduled to take place on August 29. The Social Planning Committee is already discussing the preventive measures that are going to be applied during the event. This includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) social distancing guidelines, as well as protocols recommended by the state of Tennessee.
In addition, the committee will also be taking further precautions such as admitting a limited amount of people during hourly rotations, requiring students to wear masks,\ and placing sanitization stations throughout multiple areas.
The parties, which usually served foods such as hotdogs, french fries and pizza, will also involve a change to their menus. All food distributed during these social gatherings will be limited to packaged snacks, according to Peteros.
As planned by the committee, currently these precautions will be applied throughout the year to all SA events.
“The goal is for everyone to come out and have fun, but be safe at the same time,” Peteros said.
The Social Planning Committee is currently aiming to hold most of the SA parties outside. According to Vice President for Spiritual Life Joseph Khabbaz, Southern is planning to buy an oval tent for Vespers and other social gatherings.
“It [the oval tent] will be available for SA to use,” Khabbaz said. “All they have to do is book their events to reserve the tent.”
The tent can fit 1,600 people; but to follow health guidelines, event coordinators will only accommodate 800 students. However, this does not pose a problem for attendance since the Iles Gym – where SA usually hosts its events – can only hold a crowd of 300 with the social guidelines.
As an additional safety precaution, event coordinators will only keep one entrance of the tent open and position counters by the entryway to control the amount of people allowed inside.
Though Peteros says planning has been more challenging than she expected, having to follow these precautions has helped her find a focus for each event. For example, when Peteros ran for Social Vice President last winter semester, one of her campaign plans was hosting a film festival. Now with the new precautions in place, Peteros has re-structured the occasion to a drive-in theater.
“I want them [students] to know that all these events are still going to happen,” Peteros said. “Even though we have to be safe, I don’t want them thinking that we’re going to cancel all these big nights and events. …We’re going to find things that are possible for everyone to come to.”