UPC ensuring student safety at events

Lavette Williams, Editor-in-Chief

The University of North Alabama’s University Program Council (UPC) is taking all precautions to ensure that they are providing students with the best events possible.

“The University Program Council’s first priority this year is the health and well-being of the campus community,” said Becca Bush, UPC’s advisor. “Therefore, the organization has been committed to producing creative programming solutions that adhere to the essential guidelines set forth by the University’s COVID-19 Recovery Task Force.”

The COVID-19 Recovery Task Force (CRTF) was established on April 28 to serve students while also creating and maintaining a safe environment. CRTF was charged to evaluate what actions are needed to resume academic, residential and student support services, to advise the president on necessary action steps and to ensure that other officials and shared governance leaders are informed of key findings and recommendations.

“Our expectations of students consistently match the expectations outlined in the University’s COVID-19 Recovery Guidance Plan,” Bush said.

 CRTF’s Recovery Guidance Plan the COVID-19 Recovery is presented to address a return to in-person instruction and activities for the fall 2020 semester, modified practices and instructional strategies may necessarily continue into the spring 2021 term or beyond.

“We expect students to wear a face cloth covering properly at all times and practice social distancing,” Bush said. “We also expect students to check into all UPC events using their Digital ID as a contactless form of data for continuous event improvement and safety.”

Like other student ran organizations (RSO), UPC does temperature checks, requires facial coverings and has hand sanitizer readily available at all indoor events.

Parker Leigh, UPC Vice President, said that the guidelines for each UPC event will vary.

“Our team has started using several different safety icons located on all of our event posters,” Leigh said. “There are five safety icons, which will tell the students what guidelines will need to be followed in order to come to that specific event. These icons include: Face Covering, 6 Feet Apart, Thermometer, RSVP, Virtual.”

UPC is making sure that social distancing is possible at all events so that students only fill 50% occupancy of the space they are using.

“Each event is different, but yes, some events will have a specific number that will be allowed to attend before we reach the maximum occupancy allowed,” UPC Welcome Warrior Keelyn Sealy said. “For events like this, we have been using sign-up forms on Presence to get an idea of how many students will be attending and what accommodations will need to be made.”

Sealy said that they are also are planning to have options for some events where they will allow a certain number in at a time, but will allow more as students leave the event and it becomes safe for more to enter.

In addition to these precautions, UPC is also making sure all food options will be prepackaged and that all of their equipment is being properly sanitized during the setup and tear down process.  

“We work very hard to ensure students safety by placing the precautions that we have, so we ask that students comply with the guidelines asked of them,” Sealy said. “We know that this is an uncertain and hard time, but we hope to provide students with the best experience possible at our events.”

Sealy explained that they are working hard to make the remainder of this year as normal as possible, but also making sure that they are staying safe while doing so.

Most of UPC’s events are posted either on Presence or their Instagram, @upc_una. While events like Teas & Tips and Bingo Bango have already made their appearance on campus, other events are still in discussion.

“[Although Campus Movie Nights are still in discussion] as of right now our plan moving forward is that [they] will soon be drive-in style to ensure social distancing during the movie premiere,” Sealy said. “For students who do not have a vehicle on campus, there will also be a section for students to sit in the front and social distance. In the colder months, an option to view the movies in the GUC Performance Center will be available.”

For the events, like Step Sing and Spring Concert, UPC is discussing different ways to “re-envision” them. As of now, they are waiting to announce their plans until we know more about the Spring Concert semester guidelines regarding COVID-19.

“UPC is currently exploring creative solutions to traditional events much like Step Sing and Spring Concert,” Bush said. “However, we recognize that the pandemic is evolving rapidly and often. Thus, we will continue to use the guidance plan set out by the CRTF committee to meet the health and safety guidelines applicable at that time.”

UPC understands the importance of these two campus traditions and will continue to keep students updated on their social media accounts if there are any changes.

Leigh said that although UPC has seen a change in the planning process during the pandemic, the biggest complication she feels they have faced is trying to give students a normalized event experience.

However, UPC is not the only RSO facing this change. In fact, college events all over the world have most likely felt the pressure to normalize masks and social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

In many instances, UPC has had to be creative in designing the layout of events to ensure the atmosphere is welcoming to students, while supporting the need of social distancing and sanitation.

“[We want to] continue to fulfill our mission of providing student-led programming that supports a vibrant campus experience, values traditions and creates opportunities for all student populations at the University of North Alabama while embracing social distancing,” Bush said. “[But overall,] the council is excited to expand its scope of programming and is embracing flexibility because of the ever-evolving situation the pandemic has produced.”