Another fall semester on campus meant the reoccurrence of an annual University tradition that began in 1947 — Hey Day, which Auburn’s Student Government Association hosted Oct. 14. This year, however, students were encouraged to say “hey” six feet away from each other.
As with other Hey Day events throughout the years, name tag stations sprung up all over campus. Manned by volunteers, name tags were distributed to students from a distance.
“It was tough with COVID because we didn’t really know if we were going back to school,” said Wallace Bryan, junior in speech, language and hearing sciences and director of Hey Day. “I was selected as director in [the spring], and at that point we didn’t even know if Hey Day was going to be possible.”
Bryan took on this year’s Hey Day after volunteering her freshman year then serving as assistant director for Hey Day 2019 in her sophomore year.
“I love meeting new people and am super passionate about Auburn,” she said. “Hey Day perfectly encompasses [the Auburn Family] and all that Auburn means to me, all the people it’s given me, all the experience and the education it’s given to me.”
Bryan said the biggest drive for her interest in leadership was that Hey Day allowed her to meet a variety of people in past years, a feeling she wanted to ensure students continued to receive despite challenges this semester.
“[Hey Day] is such a warm and welcoming event and we’re lacking in that so much [right now],” Bryan said. “Some people aren’t even on campus, and I’ve had so many people come up to me and say, ‘We’re so excited that you’re still offering on-campus options even while social distancing is going on.’ They do feel so lonely and so out of touch with people of Auburn.”
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For those not on campus, this year’s Hey Day introduced a virtual component students away from Auburn could tune into using Zoom. From 10-11 a.m., students could join in on a Kahoot quiz asking questions about Auburn while from 1-2 p.m., they could try their luck at a game of Auburn-themed bingo. SGA also provided free Hey Day-themed Zoom backgrounds for students to use in their classes, downloadable from SGA’s website.
“There are some people who aren’t comfortable coming on campus or they physically can’t, and we still [wanted] to connect with those people,” Bryan said. “Winners [received] a TikTok video with Aubie, a photo shoot, a free Hey Day shirt, a Kroger gift card or an A-zone parking pass.”
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., SGA offered free lunches for students on the Green Space, with Aubie dropping by to provide students with a photo opportunity.
Around 180 students volunteered for Hey Day 2020, according to Bryan. Among that group were Alli Kangal, sophomore in nursing, and Trace Patterson, junior in building science, who greeted students walking past Cater Lawn.
Kangal and Patterson said they felt this year’s Hey Day was more significant than in other years since students have been asked to distance and may have at least one online class as a result.
“Even when you’re just seeing people in public, wearing a mask makes the little things harder,” Kangal said. “People don’t see you smiling at them or little things like that. I think that Hey Day kind of [allows] people to come together and there’s some virtual aspects of it [this year], too.”
Patterson said he felt Hey Day 2020 was a needed respite from the pandemic that let students check in on one another and get the chance to meet new friends, freshmen more than others.
“Actually talking to others and saying ‘hey’ but also trying to see how they’re doing is big, especially being separated from a lot of people over the past few months,” he said. “I think it’s big for freshmen not only to want to be involved but also for other [students] to include them in stuff. Freshman year was kinda rough for everybody in different ways, so if others are trying to reach out and help in any way, all of that is really big, especially this [Hey Day].”
Justus Smith, freshman in pre-engineering, said he was pleased to see Hey Day offered this year because his first semester at Auburn is markedly different than what he would have expected before the pandemic.
“It’s hard enough normally meeting people, but now the extra level of staying apart makes it harder,” Smith said. “It’s good that we have these opportunities to try to meet some new people.”
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