IFC President Ben Porter named to North American Interfraternity Conference IFC Advisory Council

Interfraternity Council, or IFC, President Ben Porter was one of 10 nationally selected students to serve on the inaugural North American Interfraternity Conference, or NIC, IFC Advisory Council.

These undergraduate fraternity men will provide increased opportunities for student engagement with NIC initiatives and programming, as well as help NIC gain student perspective and feedback on issues affecting the fraternity industry. Throughout Porter’s term, he will work with other advisory council members to host listening sessions with peer councils in order to collect feedback and engage with student leaders across North America.

“I am honored to be part of this initiative and to serve on this council to help provide perspective for the NIC,” Porter said. “I am also eager to learn how other schools’ Greek systems operate and work towards improving our own.”

As IFC president, Porter leads nearly 3,000 men in 26 fraternities.

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Student, faculty and staff invited to participate in 2022 campus climate survey

Building upon campus climate studies conducted in 2016 and 2021, Auburn University will formally and anonymously assess students, staff, faculty, post-doctoral scholars and administrative and professional employees about their experiences and perceptions of campus and/or workplace climate during the Spring 2022 semester.

Student Affairs and the Office of Inclusion and Diversity, or OID, have partnered with SoundRocket to administer the campus climate survey to campus. SoundRocket has administered climate studies across professional industries, including other research-intensive institutions of higher education. Surveying will begin the week of March 28 and will continue until mid-to-late April. To take part in the survey, Auburn constituents should monitor their Auburn University email account for survey distribution and reminders beginning the week of March 28.

This study is one part of Auburn University’s ongoing efforts to foster a supportive, healthy and inclusive campus for all members of the Auburn Family. After data is collected, executive summaries and other reporting will be generated at the campus level. Unit-level reports will be created and distributed to senior leaders of their respective area at a later date.

To ensure confidentiality of data, the survey was developed and is being conducted by SoundRocket, a survey research firm located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. SoundRocket has been hired by Auburn University Student Affairs and OID to conduct the study and to protect faculty, staff and student confidentiality.

Frequently asked questions can be found at this link. To learn more about SoundRocket, please visit their web page here.

OID and Student Affairs will host an open forum for participants to learn more about SoundRocket and the campus climate survey process. This form will take place via Zoom on:

Wednesday, April 6, from noon-1 p.m. Register for the zoom meeting here.

Thank you for your participation and for helping build the best Auburn experience for all members of the Auburn Family. For more updates on the climate survey and other inclusion efforts, please visit auburn.edu/inclusion/.

For more information regarding this survey and all available findings, please contact the below individuals:

Taffye Benson Clayton, vice president and associate provost, Office of Inclusion and Diversity
tbc0028@auburn.edu

Bobby Woodard, senior vice president, Student Affairs
brw0016@auburn.edu

Corey Edwards, assistant to the senior vice president, Student Affairs
edwarcm@auburn.edu

Abby Langham, director, assessment and strategic planning, Student Affairs
langhat@auburn.edu

JuWan Robinson, chief of staff and special assistant, Office of Inclusion and Diversity
jdr0097@auburn.edu

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Meet Rooster: Auburn’s newest therapy dog

Student Counseling and Psychological Services therapy dogs Moose and Nessie are adding a new four-legged friend to their crew. Rooster, a six-year-old black Labrador retriever, is in training to become one of the next therapy dogs on campus.

Before joining Student Counseling and Psychological Services, Rooster was part of Auburn’s Canine Performance Sciences program, or CPS, within the College of Veterinary Medicine.

According to Student Counseling and Psychological Services psychologist and Rooster’s caretaker Sarah Schwartz, during his time with CPS, Rooster participated in several detection projects where he learned to detect different chemical and biological threats.

Rooster was also part of a program that teaches inmates how to train dogs. After completing a canine care curriculum, the inmates’ experience is credited toward an associate degree.

Most recently, Rooster was trained to undergo functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, scanning. Schwartz noted that it is extremely hard to get dogs to do.

The fMRI project examined the bond between dogs and humans. Each dog spent several weeks paired with a human, and then the humans and dogs were scanned while being shown pictures and videos of their partner.

“He would actually fall asleep in the scanner,” Schwartz said. “He was one of the best ones.”

Now, Rooster is turning his focus to the new task at hand with Student Counseling and Psychological Services.

His training to become a therapy dog will be with Canine Good Citizen through the American Kennel Club and Therapy Dog International. Through these programs, Rooster will enhance his obedience skills, “tricks” and it will help him be alert to the needs of those around him.

Once Rooster is trained, he will stay busy throughout the day just like full-time staff members.

“Rooster will be involved in individual and group therapy sessions and providing direct and indirect therapeutic interventions, such as mindfully petting him or creating a narrative about past experience and including him in the story,” Schwartz said. “He will also be involved in outreach opportunities across campus.”

The outreach opportunities include tabling events that take place on the concourse or with campus departments, classroom presentations and Get Mov’in, a weekly outdoor walking program hosted by Student Counseling and Psychological Services. Rooster will also begin helping Schwartz train students and staff in Animal Assisted Therapy.

During his down time outside of the office, Rooster stays preoccupied with his toys, especially his treat ball.

“He also enjoys a good snuggle and belly rub,” Schwartz said. “He’s a true believer that there is nothing a belly rub can’t fix. Lately, he has been liking his afternoon walks on campus saying hi to the students.”

If you see Rooster out and about, he will likely be carrying his red and black bone to show off. Schwartz encourages individuals to stop to greet Rooster—and don’t be surprised if he approaches you first.

Schwartz says Rooster’s favorite thing to do on walks is to look for someone with empty hands.

“He runs right over and asks for pets since clearly their hands aren’t occupied,” Schwartz said.

Students and campus departments are welcome to schedule an appointment with Rooster. More information can be found on Student Counseling and Psychological Services website.

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Superfans ignite crowds at sporting events

You see their painted bodies. You hear their passionate roar.

They are the Superfans.

An official student organization, Superfans are full of Auburn spirit and ready to cheer on their fellow student-athletes.

At each home football game, you can find the Superfans located on the bottom rows of the student section in the south end zone of Jordan-Hare Stadium. Depending on their availability, the Superfans have been known to attend men’s basketball games, volleyball matches, and swim and gymnastics meets.

Graduate students, undergraduate students and even student-athletes join in on the fun and electric energy the Superfans bring to athletic events.

According to Superfans president Sarah Jones, around 200 students have been painted up over the years, and the highest number of participants they have had at one sporting event is 27.

The student use their bodies as a canvas, and they also make a significant time commitment to get ready for reach event. Typically, the group gets to basketball games two hours before the doors open and four hours before football kickoffs to begin the painting process.

As soon as the group has arrived, the Superfans begin to coat each other in orange paint across their torso. Then, each letter or number is painted in blue and accentuated with a crisp white outline.

“We have to get the outline on there,” Jones said. “All the other painted-up people from other schools don’t tend to put an outline, and it doesn’t look as good. Our former president made sure this was something we continued to do to make our paint look the best out of any Superfans in the country.”

Unless there is a designated color for fans to wear, the orange with blue lettering is the go-to color scheme for the Superfans.

With the top half of their bodies painted, Jones says the bottom half is up to each participant. However, a new trend is starting to take shape within the Superfans: shaker-themed outfits.

A former Superfans president and the current treasurer are known to wear shaker pants. As for Jones, she plans to unveil her shaker skirt soon.

Deciding what message the Superfans choose will convey in paint is a group effort. Sometimes the Superfans reach out to fellow fans via social media to get ideas, other times it is decided by a group text among members or the decision is made by the Superfans exec committee.

“It’s all good-natured things,” Jones said when asked about deciding what phrases appear in paint. “They are never mean.”

Each event presents a unique opportunity for the Superfans to make a clever dig at Auburn’s opponent. For example, they’ve painted “Roll Trees” instead of “Roll Tide.”

While Jones has been part of many Superfans events, one of her favorite phrases she’s helped spell out was in honor of Auburn Men’s Basketball Head Coach Bruce Pearl.

For the March 5 matchup against South Carolina, the Superfans painted “Bruce” on their bodies. As a nod to the tradition of exaggerating Pearl’s first name when he walks onto the basketball court, the group included a few extra ‘U’s.

“This one is a fun one to do because it is a distinctly Auburn thing,” Jones said.

After that South Carolina game­–the last home game of the season­–Pearl joined the Superfans for a courtside picture.

Once the fun and excitement of the games are over, it is time for the paint to come off. But how long does that take, exactly?

“The question is what do you considered washed off? Because you will have the paint on you for a good week,” Jones said with a laugh.

Most of the paint comes off in about half an hour in the shower, but Jones said it is a process to remove it all.

“Your armpits will be orange several days following,” Jones joked. “There have been many times when I look down and I’m like, ‘Oh, there’s still an entire orange patch on me.’”

As temperatures drop during football season, the Superfans, whose torsos are most exposed, are always reminded that paint provides no warmth or protection from the sun.

However, the tan lines, paint-stained bodies, sweat-streaked skin and cold-induced chattering teeth were no reasons to complain this year, as the Superfans got to experience capacity crowds in venues after seasons put on pause during the pandemic.

“It was a real duality to last year because of COVID,” Jones said. “We missed a whole season of basketball and that was really hard on some Superfans because for a lot of them that’s the only sport they do. This year we were really excited.”

The Superfans have a special camaraderie with student-athletes. For example, several men’s basketball team members would sit with the group during football season. Jones said that the Superfans became good friends with the team, including basketball player Dylan Cardwell, who helped them lead Auburn fans in a stadium crowd wave.

“Getting to see basically our friends play basketball was amazing,” Jones said.

The Superfans’ dedication to supporting the Tigers from beginning to end can bring the student section together during both good and bad times.

“Rain or shine, cold or heat, we’ve been through it all,” Jones said. “It just shows the endurance of the student section. If you believe and love Auburn enough, you’ll go through anything.”

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Black Men in Suits celebrates male Black faculty, staff and students

Auburn’s National Pan-Hellenic Council collaborated with the Career Center to host Black Men in Suits on Feb. 28 as a culmination of Black History Month. Black Men In Suits celebrated all Black male faculty, staff and students at Auburn University.

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Batting Practice with Butch Thompson raises $5,000

Auburn’s baseball team and Interfraternity Council hosted Batting Practice with Butch Thompson, a home run derby style event, back on February 15. Tickets were sold at the door, and all sales were donated to the Hudson Family Foundation. Auburn’s Interfraternity Council was able to raise $5,000.

Each fraternity had one member compete in the home run derby. In the final round of the event, baseball head coach Butch Thompson pitched.

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Auburn University recognized with 2022 Active Minds Healthy Campus Award

Auburn University has been named a winner of the 2022 Active Minds Healthy Campus Award, one of only five in the U.S., as ranked by the Active Minds organization.

The award, now in its sixth year, celebrates U.S. colleges and universities that provide access to quality health care and not only serve students’ physical health, but give equal priority and investment to mental health.

“Mental well-being is essential for students to thrive academically and socially,” said Bobby Woodard, Auburn senior vice president for student affairs. “Auburn offers responsive, innovative services and resources that support the mental and physical health of our students, and they are an essential component of Auburn’s exceptional student experience.”

Auburn joins four other colleges and universities in receiving the Healthy Campus Award: Barstow Community College, University of South Florida at St. Petersburg, Stevens Institute of Technology and Virginia Tech.

Auburn and the other winning campuses found ways to pivot and address student needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, proactively address systems of oppression, integrate health and well-being in strategic planning and use data to ensure that students are getting the care they need, according to Active Minds.

The review panel for the Healthy Campus Award cited the following innovative practices in particular:

  • Prioritization of a collective strategic approach: In collaboration with university administrators, students from Active Minds, Spectrum and the Student Government Association established a mental health task force to understand the mental health needs of their student population and compare Auburn’s approach to that of their peer institutions. Using these findings, student groups were able to advocate for better access to mental health resources and a university-wide approach to mental health that would support the whole student body quickly on a campus with a traditionally slow change process.
  • Defining health broadly and pursuing it comprehensively: Auburn’s comprehensive communications strategy to promote mental health prevention awareness to campus, A Sound Mind Initiative, involves collaboration among 12 unique campus offices, including the Student Counseling and Psychological Services, Health Promotion and Wellness Services, Campus Recreation, Auburn University Medical Clinic, Campus Dining, Auburn Cares and the Office of Inclusion and Diversity to connect mental health to other forms of well-being, such as physical, emotional and financial health.
  • Providing quality, responsive, accessible clinical services: The increased awareness and commitment to student mental health on Auburn’s campus prompted an additional investment in the systems and structures to support student well-being. With the constant prioritization of student well-being, Auburn was positioned to quickly pivot and address the treatment needs of students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Student Counseling and Psychological Services was able to keep up with demand and avoided almost all waitlists and increased outreach efforts by 45%, bringing services proactively to students and student groups.

“Auburn University stands out due to its commitment to working within university traditions to highlight and elevate mental health,” said Alison Malmon, executive director and founder of Active Minds. “Auburn is a model for prioritizing mental health by embedding mental health into the fabric of the student experience from the student’s first days on campus through graduation.”

The Healthy Campus Award involves an extensive application process as well as multiple endorsements. Each applicant is assessed across 10 criteria, with winners chosen by a panel of students, prominent researchers and experts in health and higher education.

Active Minds has updated its Healthy Campus Framework and Recommendations to guide institutions of all types on best practices for prioritizing health, both physical and mental, on their campuses and in their communities. The 2022 report is available online.

The Healthy Campus Award is made possible through the support of Peg’s Foundation. More information about Active Minds, the Healthy Campus Award and the best-in-class programs of the award-winning colleges is available on the website.

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Campus Rec helps EAGLES soar

Education to Accomplish Growth in Life Experiences for Success, or EAGLES, is Auburn’s comprehensive transition program for students with intellectual disabilities. The program allows students a post-secondary education with a two or four-year on-campus experience helping them achieve employment and independent living.

Campus Recreation is one of the many units across campus who partner with the EAGLES program to provide individualized services and support. Auburn Strong, a 12-week health and wellness program, teaches EAGLES students healthy habits that will last a lifetime. The program is open to all EAGLES students.

While developing programming during the COVID-19 pandemic, group fitness coordinator Sarah Goodwin made some changes to Auburn Strong so it can better serve the growing EAGLES program.

Now, EAGLES students benefit from twice-weekly semi-private training, in addition to two cooking demonstrations, one group fitness activity, and pre-and-post-assessments to measure progress.

To help the students implement healthy eating habits, Auburn Strong offers nutrition consultations and cooking workshops, led by registered dieticians from Health Promotion and Wellness Services and Campus Dining.

Last semester, students learned dorm-friendly recipes and how to make easy meals with small appliances. The semester ended with a group fitness activity at Campus Recreation’s rock climbing wall.

When asked about her favorite part of the partnership, Goodwin said, “We thoroughly enjoy exploring all the resources available to students on campus, but specifically with the cooking demonstrations led by Aramark’s registered dietitian, Kaiten Zajac.”

Additionally, Goodwin is excited to bring back a grocery store tour that is led by Morgan McGrady, a registered dietitian from Health Promotion and Wellness Services.

The partnership between Campus Recreation and EAGLES goes even further. Last semester Campus Recreation hired EAGLES student Kyle Murberger to work with the membership and facilities teams.

“My favorite part about working at Campus Rec is seeing the students come in and working with people my age,” Murberger said.

According to membership coordinator Jan Barfield, Murberger greets and assists members, directs individuals entering the building and helps with equipment cleaning and distribution.

“Kyle is above reproach when it comes to dependability and commitment to his job,” Barfield said. “His presence secures our ability to meet membership needs during demanding, high traffic hours. Most of all, Kyle brings a wonderful excitement to the job which has a positive effect on our staff and the work environment.”

Murberger describes his experience as enjoyable, fun and says that he loves meeting the people who come through the doors.

Collaborating with the EAGLES program has brought positive impacts to the Campus Recreation staff.

“The professional staff and our student employees learn from the EAGLES daily,” Goodwin said. “Whether it is through their hard work and determination at our membership desk or through the relationships and group camaraderie established during training sessions, we love having the opportunity to work with the EAGLES program.”

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AUDM raises over $273,000 for local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital

Auburn University Dance Marathon, or AUDM, is a year-long initiative that raises money and awareness for patients at the Children’s Hospital at Piedmont Columbus Regional in Columbus, Georgia. At AUDM’s Main Event on Saturday, Feb. 12, it was announced $273,328.22 was raised.

Throughout the year’s fundraising efforts, all efforts lead up to the annual end of year celebration, Main Event, which is the final fundraising push of the year.

During Main Event, students stay on their feet for 12 hours raising money and awareness for their Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. This event is a non-stop party that includes performances, activities and dancing alongside staff, participants and miracle families. At the end of the night, AUDM reveals their final total for the year.

“Main event is always my favorite day of the year,” Director of Children’s Miracle Network Hospital Caroline Soule said. “This year was extra special because we were back in person and got to celebrate our year of hard work all together. Getting to play with the miracle families all day and hear their miracle stories reminds me why I love this organization so much.”

Funds are raised by students through Facebook fundraisers, direct solicited donations and local and corporate sponsorships.

In AUDM’s 11th year, students have raised over $3.6 million to the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

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Student Affairs celebrates Black History Month

February included informational and celebratory events throughout Student Affairs and other campus departments in honor of Black History Month.

National Pan-Hellenic Council hosted a film screening of “Afrikan By Way of America” at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University to share the history of an Africatown community located near Mobile.

“The council wanted to provide exposure for a local African American filmmaker who makes films about untold but inspiring African American history in the state of Alabama,” Greek Life coordinator Benard Goins said. “They felt that education through film would give a different perspective and provide an avenue to reach more students and community partners.”

Student Involvement organizations such as the Black Student Union, or BSU, University Program Council, or UPC, and Emerge at Auburn held campus-wide Black History Month events.

“Black History Month is an exciting time for the Black Student Union,” student organizations coordinator Alexis Davis said. “Each year BSU plans multiple events for Auburn students to engage and learn about Black history and culture.”

According to Davis, BSU committees hold summer planning meetings to coordinate events and programming centered around Black History Month, including the Soul Food Bazaar, the Jazz and Poetry Gala, and Unity Week.

“Unity Week is a time for organizations around campus to collaborate and connect with the Black Student Union,” Davis said. “A goal for this event is to create unity throughout the Auburn Family.”

Emerge at Auburn hosted a Lunch and Learn that was themed “Leadership with Soul [Food]” featuring Martha Hawkins, owner of Martha’s Place, a Montgomery soul food restaurant. Hawkins shared her life story, dared students to be brave in their dreams and dished about soul food, while attendees were treated to lunch catered by Hawkins’ renowned restaurant.

BSU, Emerge at Auburn and UPC collaborated to bring Yusef Salaam, a member of the Exonerated Five, to campus as the Black History Month Keynote Speaker.

According to leadership programs coordinator Hannah Gerken, these student organizations hope attendees gain a deeper understanding of Salaam’s experience, his life story and how it shaped who he is as a father, poet, activist, motivator and leader.

“It is an honor and privilege to host Dr. Yusef Salaam on Auburn University’s campus as our keynote speaker for Black History Month 2022,” Gerken said. “Through this collaboration, we are excited for students to engage in honest conversation about what it means to persevere through unimaginable situations, identify tangible ways to advocate for change and how to break through boundaries.”

Additionally, students and the campus community had several other opportunities to attend Black History Month events with other organizations across the university to learn more about Black history and accomplishments.

When asked what Davis hopes Black History Month event attendees learned and experienced, she said, “I hope they learn about Black culture and experiences of Black students on this campus.”

There are organizations throughout campus that celebrate Black culture every day, and Black History Month highlights the diversity that is present on campus and gives these organizations the opportunity to engage even more with Auburn students and the campus community.

To explore these organizations, visit AUinvolve.

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