LAC Night postponed due to COVID-19: What that means for other events

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Originally scheduled to take place on Jan. 23, Southern’s Latin American Club (LAC) has now postponed its  annual LAC Night show to Feb. 13. The change in date came after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced new state COVID-19 guidelines due to a holiday surge, according to Director of Student Life & Activities Kari Shultz. 

“There was a state mandate that said no more than 10 people could gather together until midnight on January 19,” Shultz said. “Without knowing what would happen after that, we just decided to move the date further out so that LAC would have a bit more time to continue to plan, and hopefully the numbers of people in the gathering will be larger.”

After receiving advice from administration, LAC Night director and senior biomedical and international studies major Marco Swaisgood said the club leaders decided it would be best to postpone the event, being  that the show would not be feasible with the new 10-person limit. He said that while the postponed date was unexpected, the extra time to plan has been a blessing.

“It would have been very stressful trying to grind everything out the first week that people are starting to settle back in,” Swaisgood said. “We have more time now to smooth everything out and really make sure we can put on the best night possible.”

Before the new year, Gov. Lee announced that he would be signing an order that would limit indoor public gatherings to 10 people, according to a statewide address that was streamed on Dec. 20.

“We are in a global pandemic that’s been crippling our country for months, and now Tennessee is ground zero for a surge in sickness,” Lee said in the address. “… We know that it is gatherings that have caused this surge. That is why we are making these decisions around gatherings that will help us blunt the rise in cases.”

However, these new guidelines will not change any other event that is scheduled on Southern’s Winter 2021 semester calendar, according to Shultz. 

As for classroom capacity numbers, Vice President for Advancement Carolyn Hamilton said that classroom guidelines will remain as they are since Southern’s contact tracing hasn’t generally led back to the classroom setting.

“The classroom setting has not been where our on campus transmissions are generally occurring,” Hamilton said. “It’s students riding in cars together where the air is trapped. And, generally, they’re not wearing masks during that time. Some [students] contract it from family members, others from doing the things we normally do — shopping, eating out and hanging out together, unmasked, generally.”

According to Hamilton, to maintain an enriching and engaging social environment on campus, the university has been focusing on how they can have events safely rather than not doing anything at all.  

“I think our goal at Southern is just how can we do the things we want to do and do them safely,” Hamilton said. “It’s not so much that we’re not doing anything. We still have to be a community. But we just have to do things a little differently.”

If COVID-19 guidelines continue to change, and LAC Night cannot happen on Feb. 13, Swaisgood said he would like to record the show in full and release it for people to watch and enjoy with small groups of friends and family. 

“Regardless of what happens, I’m so thankful for the support of my fellow LAC officers and for the time and dedication put in by everyone else involved,” Swaisgood said.

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