On Auburn's first wellness day of the semester, the University Program Council hosted a Mardi Gras pop-up event on the second floor of the Harold D. Melton Student Center. The event allowed students to have caricatures drawn by two artists, have Polaroids taken and get beads and Moon Pies in celebration of Mardi Gras.
Casey Stark, senior in public relations and UPC's director of special events, said the organization planned to host a larger carnival-style event but the plans were scaled down to a smaller celebration due to COVID.
“We just wanted to bring a little bit of happiness to students on Auburn’s campus, especially on a Wellness Day when it is cold and dreary outside,” Stark said.
Stark said the safety protocols are a huge part of how UPC plans events and also staying under the allotted 50-person limit set by the University.
“We want to reach as many students as possible this year but also need to keep it under the limit, so we are trying to stress quality over quantity this year,” she said. “We are especially trying to reach freshmen that are not able to make as many relationships with students on campus and the out-of-state students.”
Megan Dodd, freshman in mechanical engineering, said it has been hard to get to know people and make friends outside of the classroom which is one of the reasons she has attended UPC events.
“My family normally does Mardi Gras at home and I was not able to go back and do their [celebration] so I thought 'Why not come and do it here and have some fun?'” Dodd said.
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As a freshman, Dodd said she has attended some UPC events in the past including a movie night showing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Although meeting people at events like the Mardi Gras pop-up has been helpful for her, Dodd says it is still a challenge to be social in these times.
“It is fun and something to do,” Dodd said. “It is a good way to socialize but [because of] COVID it is not always helpful in staying connected.”
Travis Moody and Emma Strickland, both juniors in mechanical engineering, said they usually attend the movie events with UPC and came to the event to get a caricature. Strickland said she thinks it is beneficial for upperclassmen to come to these events as a way to be more involved on campus.
As an upperclassman, Strickland said with the restrictions events this year have “definitely fewer people but the atmosphere still feels the same.” Moody said the only thing different about the events this year was “not having to wait in long lines.”
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