MSU Dawg Days adapt to COVID-19 measures

Four MSU students explore campus during the Class Finder Dawg Days event on the Drill Field.

This year's Dawg Days have been different as Mississippi State University students and organizations continue to adapt to the university's Cowbell Well rules.

Dawg Days, otherwise known as MSU's Welcome Week, is a collection of events and activities during the fall semester where students are able to participate in a variety of events hosted by student organizations and meet other students.

Dawg Days usually takes place as students are moving into their residence hall or apartment to the end of the first week of classes. This year, Dawg Days has been extended to last 15 days, from August 15 through the 30.

According to Amelia Rogers via email, the associate director for student activities at MSU, this allows students extra time to participate in the various events and activities held in August. 

In the past, Dawg Days has consisted of large outdoor events with a close proximity to other students. This year however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several events have been held virtually via WebEx. 

Chris Hawkins, the assistant director for student activities at MSU, mentioned how this year's Dawg Days have adapted to meet the needs of students. According to Hawkins, one of the ways the MSU Center for Student Activities welcomed freshmen moving into their residence halls was by giving them a Dawg Days Welcome Box Kit, providing the students with information about available resources and programs happening during Dawg Days.

Rogers said throughout the months it took to plan these events and activities for Dawg Days there have been several sudden changes where the Center for Student Activities team had to be flexible. 

In preparing for this year's Dawg Days, Hawkins said MSU's closure in March has allowed them to become equipped to organize the event.

"We're just trying to get creative and add things that went along with some of the program that we were doing. It's definitely been an adjustment," Hawkins said. "I think we have a wide spread of different events and programs that should be fun for students, whether they're in person or virtual. 

Some of the events for Dawg Days have been in person, such as the Theatre MSU Meet and Greet on Aug. 16 from 4 to 6 p.m. Kat Moore, a theatre major who attended and aided with the event, was surprised at how successful the Meet and Greet was.

"The event actually went much better than I thought it would. Even amid the craziness of the pandemic and getting back to school, the first official MSU Theatre event went wonderfully. We had a great turnout. Everyone followed the Cowbell Well rules, and we all had a really great time," Moore said.

Most events and activities that are usually held in-person have become virtual. This year's 10th annual Shades of Starkville event, an organization and business fair that is usually held on the Drill Field where students can learn about organizations on campus and businesses in the Starkville area, was one such virtual shift.

During Shades of Starkville, on Aug. 18 from 5 to 7 p.m., students were able to interact with different organizations through various WebEx links on Cowbell Connect as opposed to the normal booths.

For Starkville businesses, from Aug.17 through 21, information for each business was posted on the Center for Student Activities' website so that students could click on the link and learn more about each particular business. Information about the businesses involved has been posted on the Center for Student Activities' social media and on digital display boards across campus.

Rogers said that one of the benefits of having Shades of Starkville as a virtual event is more people are able to join in without having to leave the comfort of their residence.

"I think offering more events virtually allows for even more students to participate. They don't have to physically get from one booth to the next. They are able to engage at the level they are comfortable with, and it's a safe way to have interaction for everyone," Rogers said.

According to Rogers, no matter what the outcome of the event is, Dawg Days will be a success regardless of most events being virtual.

"Students have been eager for experience where they can engage with their peers and make connections on campus, and Dawg Days is a great way to do that," Rogers said.

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