UPC prepares for step-sing amid COVID-19

Ellen McDonald, Managing Editor

Due to ongoing pandemic, many traditions at the University of North Alabama have been postponed or canceled since the arrival of students back in August. 

One tradition that did not fall victim to COVID-19 was Step-Sing. Going with the theme, “Single Artists,” the University Programming Council had to adapt to all the changes brought forth by COVID-19.

“Of course, with COVID, you have to have masks and everything,” said the Productions Promoter of UPC, Kemi Anderson. “That’s probably the biggest thing.”

In year’s past, the stage would be filled with students of the university, but this year, it will look a bit different. 

Anderson explained that UPC, while planning Step-Sing, had to lower the number of people who could be on stage performing. 

“I think it [stage capacity] used to be like 40 or so,” said Anderson. “We dropped it down to where the biggest group could be five to twenty, so they’re always 6 feet apart on the stage.” 

Additionally, if a performer is not singing, they must be masked at all times. There will be four consistent singers at the microphones, who will be allowed to not wear a mask, placed at the front of the stage. 

“Practices have to stop at 10 p.m. every single night, so we can ensure that everyone’s immune system is staying up and that they [participants] are not overworking anyone,” Anderson said. 

Anderson went on to add that UPC is allowed to “pop-in” at any rehearsal to ensure all rules and guidelines are being followed, especially the wearing of masks.

“If they don’t [comply to guidelines], I believe, at first it’s a five point infraction and then if it continues to happen, it could lead to disqualification,” said Anderson. “We really don’t want anyone to get sick on our watch.”

Under normal circumstances, UPC would host two nights of Step-Sing, but in order to ensure that the auditorium is at half-capacity, there will be three nights this year. 

With the addition of an extra night, UPC is hoping this will allow for the families of the participants to attend.

“Everything is different,” Anderson added. 

Due to last year’s renovations within Norton Auditorium, Step-Sing took place at Muscle Shoals High School. This year however, the competition will once again be on UNA’s campus from Jan. 28 through 30. The winner will be announced on the final night. 

Anderson explained that one of the hardest obstacles to overcome this year while planning Step-Sing is COVID-19. There has been a constant need to find new ways to keep Step-Sing the way everyone knows and loves, but still abide by all guidelines. 

“It [Step-Sing] wasn’t even approved until a lot later than it usually is because it was hard getting an approval from the university…” said Anderson. “Usually it’s a given that Step-Sing is happening, but this year, there was a question on if it was going to happen.” 

While making the rules for this year’s competition, the members of UPC had to consider if all the previous rules could still be logical with the requirement of social distancing and mask wearing. 

“If someone were to get sick like the night of a performance, we had to think through those sort of rules and how to change things like that,” said Anderson. “Every event we’ve been trying to plan has been mixed up with COVID, of course, but everyone is going through it.”

The usual demographic of those who sign-up to compete in Step-Sing, is fraternity and sorority life. This year, there was no shortage of participation. 

“We were really trying to push this year for more groups and more RSOs [Registered Student Organizations],” said Anderson. “But, I think with Step-Sing being such a loved event by sorority and fraternity life, it is harder to get it out to other interested groups because a lot of people are thinking, ‘why would I try to compete with a sorority whose won a ton of times before,’ so I think it’s because of that sort of thing.”

Anderson is hopeful that next year will raise the interest in Step-Sing within new groups who have never participated before. 

This year, all the proceeds of the event will be going to the improvements of campus infrastructure and the Pantry, a resource on campus for students dealing with food insecurity. 

According to UPC’s webpage, “Funds may be raised for other internal campus initiatives as well. Campus infrastructure project proposals must be submitted to the Student Government Executive to then be referred to the Rollover Committee.”

At the forefront of a UNA tradition, the pandemic has brought to light new concerns and rules; but, UPC and all of its members, is doing the best it can to ensure the health and wellbeing of all students who wish to gain a sense of normalcy.