With no sporting events and all the safety guidelines that come with the pandemic, Dakota Days week is shifting to alternative means to celebrate USD homecoming.
Doug Wagner, advisor to the Dakota Days executive committee, said the biggest difference this year is that large events have moved from the Muenster University Center to either Aalfs Auditorium or outdoor settings in order to facilitate social distancing.
“It’ll look a little bit different, it’ll function a little bit different, but largely, events are still happening, they’re just going to happen in a different space,” Wagner said.
Carter Hoffer, president of the Dakota Days executive committee, said the committee won’t hold an event if they can’t ensure social distancing at it, which means the street dance and parade are canceled. Despite these changes, Hoffer said there will still be many staples of D-Days, including the Yotes Got Talent event — which will be held outdoors — and D-Days royalty voting.
“It’s going to be extremely different than we’ve seen in the past,” Hoffer said. “We’re trying to keep everything safe, and we’re trying to keep as many events as possible outside to make it even safer.”
During the week, students will be able to attend a screening of last year’s USD-SDSU game at the DakotaDome. Students will also be able to attend a virtual mind-reading show over Zoom with entertainer Mark Toland hosted by the Campus Activities Board.
Marcus Destin, D-Days event coordinator, said in lieu of the parade, a motorcade will travel through Vermillion and surrounding communities. Because there won’t be a football game, Destin said, the D-Days committee is planning something special, though they don’t want to announce what it is yet.
The committee is also planning to host a second week of celebrations similar to D-Days in the spring. Hoffer said the event is something the university has been pushing for over the past few years, and that the pandemic provides an opportunity to start hosting these celebrations, though he doesn’t know if the week will be centered around sports like D-Days usually is.
“Obviously, we don’t know what the next semester’s going to look like pandemic-wise,” Hoffer said. “We don’t know what’s happening, so it’s going to depend pretty heavily on how things are going.”
Destin said in addition to being good for Vermillion businesses, the second week of events gives students that don’t enter the university in the fall semester a chance to see what D-Days is like.
“It’s also good for recruitment because if you’re a transfer student and you come in in the spring, you don’t get a formal introduction to USD, so that’s what this would be,” Destin said.
This semester’s D-Days will be different, Destin said, because students themselves need to show their own personal D-Day’s spirit.
“We cannot just hand you an event and tell you to participate,” Destin said. “We’re going to have a D-Days — it may not be the one you’re familiar with, but it still is up to you to make it the best that it can be in this situation.”