The American Studies Institute (ASI) made alterations for their annual induction event, which took place Sunday, Oct. 11, to accommodate inducting one of the University’s largest classes yet while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.
ASI has been a long-lasting program that gives students the opportunity to expand upon their educational excellence at Harding and connect with individuals in the Searcy community. This semester, Kim Kirkman, executive director of ASI, and Noah Hernbeck, ASI student president, have both had to plan events that have been changed drastically in comparison to years prior.
“The extra precautions that my staff and public safety will have to implement at events are multiple entrances, seating 6 feet apart, mask-wearing,” Kirkman said “All of this will add more responsibility to getting the event executed successfully.”
Typically, the induction ceremony is held in Cone Chapel or the McInteer Rotunda, but both of these spaces were too small to accommodate the 132 students that were inducted this year. Instead, the induction was held outside on the front lawn in order to accommodate the inductees and maintain proper social distancing.
“Becoming a member of ASI is an accomplishment, and we want it to feel that way,” Hernbeck said. “With it being outside at a very central location on campus, there is more opportunity for visibility with other students. We are inducting the largest class ever into ASI this year, so even though we [were] spread out it [still felt] like a big event.”
Every organization has had to make drastic changes to their normal schedule due to the circumstances brought on by COVID-19. Given the current environment, it is important to many of these organizations that they put the safety and well-being of their members as top priority.
“So much has had to go virtual this year,” Holden Montgomery, senior ASI officer said. “I’m a communications major — I believe in the power of face to face communication. Being present connects you so much more to the experience than a virtual meeting. Being able to be there and hear it all live was really beneficial. We were super blessed to be able to be there and do that — and on a beautiful day too.”