With in-person events on a slow and steady rise, Mississippi State University students are looking for creative ways to be social and feel connected to campus again. The Center for Student Activities and Holmes Cultural Diversity Center are giving students just that.
Student Activities and Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, along with other organizations including Music Maker Productions and The Social Campus, are sponsoring and hosting The Maroon Lounge Paint Experience.
The event will take place at 7 p.m. on Feb. 12 in the Foster Ballroom in the Colvard Student Union.
The Foster Ballroom is turning into the Maroon Lounge and will provide students with a unique painting experience. Students will be able to create their own masterpiece with step-by-step instructions which will also be accompanied by a jazz ensemble performance.
The Maroon Lounge Paint Experience is a part of the Dawgs After Dark initiative that Regina Hyatt, the vice president of student affairs, enacted a couple of years ago. Similar events have happened in the past such as a rap battle that Dawgs After Dark put on. However, the relaxing setting of this event makes it the first of its kind.
Chris Hawkins is the assistant director for student activities and oversees the Dawgs After Dark program. Hawkins explained this event is an opportunity for students to get outside of their comfort zone and try something new.
"I think the event is important because it's a great late-night weekend program. It kind of introduces students to something that is not typical in regards to listening to a jazz ensemble but also to do a make-it, take-it event," Hawkins said. "You know you come to the event, and you're not just sitting there. You're creating something, and then, you're able to take it home to your residence hall to your room and hang it on the wall. So overall, it's a great opportunity for students to do something outside of the norm in Starkville."
Employees from Pail of Paint, a pottery painting store on Highway 12, will be teaching the painting process to students. They are providing all the paint supplies, as well as clear instructions, to ensure a stress-free environment for students to come and relax for the night.
Music Maker Productions will be providing students with the music for the event. There will be a playlist curated by Music Makers and also a guest performance by members of the Maroon Band.
Junior communication major Gabriel Bowman is the public relations chair for Music Maker Productions. Bowman explained it would be beneficial for students to come with a friend to enjoy and partake in the event on Friday.
“It will be better for students to come in pairs because the seats are set in pairs and that helps with social distancing. As far as Music Maker Productions, we’re curating a R&B jazz playlist especially for the event," Bowman said.“It's a collaborative playlist that we’re working on now, and it’s something very special that we’re doing for this event. And as Music Makers, our role is just to help facilitate the event by serving the student body and helping out.”
Grey Garris works for student activities for the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center as a graduate assistant and has been co-planning the event with Hawkins. Hawkins said the event was intentionally designed as an opportunity for students to unwind.
"Mostly, we're just trying to get students out of their residence halls and give them a space to take something away from the program with the painting aspect and actually let them be able to relax with something," Garris said. "A lot of the programming going on recently is getting everybody excited or trying to make everybody's mood higher. And we've kind of reached a consensus that that's not what everybody wants at the moment. Everybody wants to at least relax and calm down. So we're trying to provide that as a different alternative for the students at the moment."
There are only 125 spots available for the event, so students are encouraged to RSVP for the event on Cowbell Connect. If the promise of a stress-free creative outlet is not enough to draw in attendance, there will also be prizes given away at the event. Students will receive goodie bags, and the first 50 students will receive a Bluetooth speaker. The Social Campus is also sponsoring an Apple product raffle which includes an Apple TV device and a pair of AirPods.