Lifestyle 2022 — The Auburn Plainsman

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The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle

Spring 2022


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Spring 2022

The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle

what’s inside: Campus culture

4 | A letter to the freshmen 5 | Money saving tips 6 | Collections help students keep, create memories 8 | A new generation of culinary leaders

What’s trending

12 | Must-have accessories 13 | Amazon still students’ go-to for shopping 14 | Staff book recommendations

Student life

16 | Is Auburn University gender-inclusive? 18 | How students make long-distance work 20 | Day trips from Auburn

Auburn Sports

22 | Being an AU fan is about more than football 23 | AU fans hit the road 24 | Leotard looks from 2021 26 | Operation Iron Ruck 27 | The Jungle roars again MARY ELIZABETH LANE | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

A letter from the editor-in-chief: By EVAN MEALINS Editor-in-chief

Over the break, the night I heard Joan Didion, the writer famous for her coverage of 1960s California, died, I reread her most famous essay, “On Self Respect.” As inconsequential as it is, I decided my word for the year is self-respect, both as a reminder for myself and as a tribute to Ms. Didion. (I’m sure she would be honored.) Maybe it was the therapy I’d started a few days before, or it was the end of a stressful semester and the thought of resolutions I’d make — and inevitably break — in a few days, but I’d like to think it was her writing that inspired a shift in me. I’ll make the conscious decision, I thought, to be more honest and direct, to stare at my mistakes and to avoid that nightmare scenario she describes in the final sentence, of searching for myself and finding no one at

home. In this context, self-respect resembles responsibility, but maybe responsibility is a necessary outcome of self-respect. Compared to my shallow view of responsibility, self-respect is more forgiving. Self-respect doesn’t order us to meet every deadline, fulfill every task, check every box and shame us when we invariably fail. When we do, all that’s required is that we answer to ourselves and tell the voice in our head that we stand by our choices, or at least will not delude or distract ourselves out of our recognition of them. To borrow a phrase from Didion, self-respect asks that we know the price of things. If we eschew our responsibilities, we are willing to account for whatever losses or gains come to us. On most calculations, it’s in our favor to uphold them. The Plainsman’s responsibility to you is straightforward: Deliver the news. Our hope

is that you read it; that you turn to us to hear others’ voices and talk to us when others need yours. It’s in both of our favor. I hope you enjoy this edition. I am so proud of the amazing staff who put this together, and I thank everyone who worked with us for a story.


The Plainsman EDITORIAL BOARD EVAN MEALINS Editor-in-Chief

ABIGAIL MURPHY Operations Editor

TRICE BROWN Multimedia Editor

DESTINI AMBUS Content/Opinion Editor

MY LY News Editor

CAROLINE CRAIG Assistant News Editor

ABIGAIL WOODS Culture Editor

SABINA CRISITELLO Assistant Culture Editor

CALEB JONES Sports Editor

HENRY ZIMMER Assistant Sports Editor


ABBY CUNNINGHAM Social Media Editor


KRISTEN CARR Podcast Editor

CALEB EASON Editorial Cartoonist


Editor Evan Mealins, editor-in-chief of The Plainsman, is a senior studying philosophy and economics and will graduate in spring 2022.



The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle

Spring 2022



For freshmen, realizing their childhood is in the past is a new and bittersweet development.


A LETTER TO THE FRESHMEN By DIOSELIN CRUZ Columnist As we return to campus from the holidays, it is nice to indulge ourselves with a bit of nostalgia. For first-year students, realizing our childhood is now in the past is a new, bittersweet development. Moving and beginning a new chapter of your life can be challenging, especially when you revisit your old life and realize what you have left behind. Despite its flaws, you begin to appreciate it in ways you never did before. As a first-year student, I often find myself searching for the old within the new. I will catch a glimpse of someone walking on campus, and for a second, they look like the class clown from fourth period history

freshman year of high school. You begin to miss the little things — the “good morning’s” from your odd chemistry teacher and life stories from your AP Government teacher and even your sister taking an hour in the bathroom before school. Well, maybe not that. You miss all the people and faces you took for granted when you saw them almost every day for four, nine or 13 years of your life. Now you are in a new town with new people and places. You have only lived here for several months, but it has quickly become your new home. Some of us joined a thousand clubs or became a part of Greek life. We have met so many people and tried so many different things. I find out about a new place in Au-

burn nearly every day. In some ways, we are grieving our old lives, whatever they may be. As thrilling as this newfound freedom can be, it can also be exhausting. All the opportunities and decisions can be paralyzing without proper guidance. Given the pandemic regulations and subsequent quarantine in our junior and senior years of high school, many of us may be less accustomed to ordinary hustle and bustle, making our transition to college more challenging than it already is. During the process of applying and choosing a college to attend, academic resources were limited to those deemed “essential,” which left many students with little guidance outside of the home. Furthermore, regardless of our prefer-

ences, switching from an online academic setting to an on-campus setting can be emotionally and physically taxing after becoming accustomed to less social interaction during the quarantine. Yet, life moves on. You are expected to show up and participate in life. Turn in the assignments. Keep your grades up. Smile when you’re stressed out. Try to do better. However, it is okay to not be okay. As we process the death of our old lives, we may experience sadness (despite our severe senioritis in high school). We also may feel anxious about what direction to take in our lives. After all, no one is holding your hand anymore. Let us feel whatever we need to feel and accept the end of a chapter. We are only just beginning.

Spring 2022

The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle



Money saving tips to bring in the new year By KARA MAUTZ Culture Writer

As the holiday season comes to a close, saving and managing money can seem difficult, if not impossible. However, it can be easy to save money with simple tips that will last through the new year. Jack Wyatt, senior in accounting, said one way he saves money is by having a portion of his paycheck automatically deposited into his savings account. This happens every time he directly deposits a check into his bank account. “When it is automatically deposited, it is not a decision, and it just happens,” Wyatt said. Though saving money can be challenging at best, Wyatt said there are still good deals that can help make it easier to slow down the spending. One easy way to begin saving in is with grocery shopping. “Grocery stores will often have really good deals on alcohol if you pay attention, and that can save you money and make for a really good and cheap gift,” Wyatt said. Lacey Harland, junior in human development and family sciences, said one way she saves money on the day-to-day is by making a list and planning for what she is going to buy at the grocery store.

“Making a list of what I need at the store helps me to see everything I need and saves time and money,” Harland said. “It also helps me to limit what I need to buy so that way I am not just spending money on unnecessary items.” Harland said she also likes to make a list to plan for what her friends and family want for the holidays. This tactis allowed her the time to shop for gifts so she did not have to spend a lot of money all at one time during this past holiday season. “I also like making gifts for my friends and family, which



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saves money and is sentimental,” Harland said. Wyatt said another way he likes to save money is by cooking meals instead of going out to eat, as well as attending specials at restaurants or drinking at home to avoid spending money on drinks at a bar. “In the winter, I will also turn down the heat in my apartment a little and dress more warmly instead, to lower my heating bill,” Wyatt said. Wyatt also said he likes to buy clothes at the end of the season when they are on sale and saves them for the following year. Harland said a way she cuts costs is by using a student discount for her subscription services and memberships. “I have Netflix and HBO Max, and I use the student discount we have been given to make those services cheaper,” Harland said. In addition, Harland said she also likes to use a budgeting app on her phone to help her see what she is spending. This helps her plan out how to spend her money. “When I budget, it lets me see what I am spending all of my money on so if I need to save money a certain week I can plan ahead,” she said. Harland also said that she tries to eat as many meals on campus as she can, using her Tiger Card and dining dollars to avoid having to spend money off-campus.


The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle

Spring 2022


Collections help students keep, create memories By CATHERINE HAYNES News Writer

Auburn University students have an array of collections that range from antique drinkware and tea sets to hunting knives. The collections Auburn students have acquired over the years are special to them for various reasons. A few of the benefits students named about having a collection are the abilities to connect with people and learn about new things. Heather Mann, senior in mechanical engineering, said her collection of antique drinkware and tea set pieces has allured her to bring people together and create lasting memories. “To me, my collection is a physical manifestation of the feelings of connectedness and friendship,” Mann said. “I still use pieces of the collec-

tion to forge and strengthen connections with my friends and family.” Mann began her collection when she was in third grade and her teacher had an end-ofthe-year raffle. There, Mann won a decorative painted teapot. Following the raffle, Mann started collecting pieces to have a tea party with her friends and family. Her collection has now grown to include items such as goblets, wine glasses, snifters and teacups. “Being able to hand these items out to whoever is around me and offer them a fancy little teacup or an elaborate goblet to drink out of just makes the experience of being with that person that much more special and memorable,” Mann said. Korey Self, freshman in fitness, conditioning

and performance, started collecting knives when he was 10 years old. His collection began after his dad and grandfathers handed knives down to him that they had collected over the span of a lifetime. This sparked Self’s desire to become a knife collector, too. “Everywhere we travel, my dad, my brother and I look for a local knife shop to add to our collections,” Self said. Like Mann, Self said the importance of his collectibles lies not just in the objects themselves. “They are more than just knives,” Self said. “They are memories and connections to loved ones.” Self said he has learned about many different types of knives because of his collection. Over the years, he’s learned how they work and how to properly take care of them.


Self displays his collection of knives that sprang from his father and grandfather’s interest in them.

Spring 2022

The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle


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The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle

Spring 2022



The culinary fundementals class is an extension of Auburn’s hospitality mangement program.

A new generation of culinary leaders and entrepreneurs By ABIGAIL STEPHENSON News Writer

Whether on or off campus, the hospitality scene in Auburn is vibrant with restaurants, families and businesses that serve Auburn students and locals. Under the leadership of successful chefs such as David Bancroft of Acre, a recent Iron Chef Showdown Winner, and James Beard Award semi-finalist, Auburn’s hospitality industry continues to attract culinary educators and leaders. Auburn’s hospitality management program is also keen on educating a new generation of culinary entre-

preneurs as the program awaits the completion of the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Building scheduled to open next fall. This building will enhance the resources of the college of human sciences and assist Auburn students to gain the necessary experience to be successful owners and innovators in the hospitality industry. Master culinologist Mark Traynor, program coordinator for the culinary science program, shared how the new building will cater to the education of the students as well as contribute to the Auburn community at large. “The building affords us the ability to focus on the

more hands-on component of education,” Traynor said. “It will combine theory and practice. This building can also contribute to the Auburn people in the sense that it is to take care of people in a hospitable way, be that in our restaurants, in our spa, in our hotel and in our event space.” Traynor also shared the vision of the hospitality program and the key objectives of the curriculum. “We are not just a hospitality program or a culinary program,” Traynor said. “We want our students whether it’s hotels and restaurants or event management or culinary science to walk away and be the future leaders

Spring 2022

The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle



in the industry in their respective field of study. We want our students to be equipped to maybe potentially build a brand, build a business or expand a business. We want our students to be innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs.” Jamari Collier, freshman in hospitality management, described his excitement for the new building and the opportunities different spaces will provide. “I am most excited for the new teaching classrooms,” Collier said. “We will be able to have many different teachers come in like different chefs from across the world and also locals like David Bancroft from Acre and Bow & Arrow. It will provide us new opportunities to experiment and expound on different skills.” In addition to the new kitchens, tasting rooms and event spaces, the Culinary Science Building will host the Hey Day Market, which will facilitate eight to 10 different commercial units, with cutting edge food and an emphasis on sustainability. Traynor also discussed another new component. “There is also going to be an incubation space in there,” Traynor said. “So if someone has a business idea

and they want to test that out to the market, there will be a ready made facility there for somebody to test out their idea to the public and get feedback and be a stepping stone moving towards their own establishment.” Whether it be an Auburn student or a member of the public, this incubation space will provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs and leaders to test their ideas. It’s a space that will allow creative ventures to become tangible and accessible without long-term factors. Both Traynor and Collier spoken on how hospitality goes beyond industry and business in that it serves and connects people. “It is to acknowledge people as actual people in the sense that they have a story and they have experiences behind themselves,” Traynor said. Using empathy and understanding even impacts how they refer to those who visit their restaurant or cafe. “There’s a reason why in the hospitality industry we wouldn’t necessarily say we have a customer,” Traynor said. “We have a guest because we are inviting them

into our space and treating them as guests just as you would have someone come into your home. You have to have empathy.” The impacts of the human touch, namely that it cultivates sympathy and promotes mutual helpfulness, are echoed in Collier’s description of bringing people together. “One thing that food can do very well is that it can serve as a medium to bring people together and let them learn from one another,” Collier said. “Everyone is eating around a table and eating the same foods just talking about taste and discussing different ideas and exchanging those. It promotes a family atmosphere.” Hospitality serves, connects and creates spaces for stories to be told. According to Collier and Traynor It is a people oriented practice that caters to the needs of guests and cultivates environments where relationships can thrive. With the addition of the new Culinary Science Building, they said the hospitality industry will utilize its spaces to continue to serve the community and shape a new generation of knowledgeable, empathetic and passionate culinary leaders.

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The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle

Spring 2022

the jay and susie gogue performing arts center at auburn university presents our

Bush / Marshall / Meyer / Meyer Thursday, January 27

Soledad Barrio & Noche Flamenca Thursday, February 10 Camille A. Brown & Dancers Friday, February 18

Anaïs Mitchell + Bonny Light Horseman Sunday, February 27

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Saturday, January 29 ³ Sunday, January 30

An Evening with Branford Marsalis Sunday, February 20

Yamato: The Drummers of Japan Friday, February 25

Spring 2022

The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle



Les Violons du Roy with Jeremy Denk Sunday, March 13

Alfredo Rodríguez & Pedrito Martinez Friday, March 18

BalletX: The Little Prince Saturday, March 26

An Evening with Kenny G Tuesday, March 29 The Righteous Brothers: Bill Medley & Bucky Heard Saturday, April 23 Lauren Patten Sunday, April 24 Air Play by Acrobuffos Friday, May 13

Anastasia Tuesday, May 31 ³ Wednesday, June 1

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s OKLAHOMA! Tuesday, May 17 Wednesday, May 18 Thursday, May 19

Student tickets available now! 334.844.TIXS (8497) · GOGUECENTER.AUBURN.EDU


The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle

Spring 2022


These accesories are must-haves, according to Auburn students By SABINA CRISITELLO Assistant Culture Editor

It is no secret that Auburn does not see the coldest winters in the country, but that does not mean students cannot dress the part. Not sure how? No problem. According to Auburn students, it is all in the accessories. As temperatures cool down and the holiday season heats up, here is what Auburn students have to say about this winter’s must-have accessory trends. Workwear, reimagined: The must-have shoe this season? Loafers. Yes, you read that right. According to Sydney Hansen, junior in apparel merchandising and SWATCH ambassador, the comfort shoe once reserved for tired workwear is back in a big way. Much like any other trend that has been dug up from the grave, Hansen said, the loafer’s revival looks a bit different than most would remember it as. She believes the trendiest loafers this winter will feature a platform heel and gold, chain-link detailing. In addition to its revamp, part of the loafer’s appeal comes with styling. “Sheer socks that show under the loafer,” Hansen said. “That’s going to be very trendy.” The party returns: After nearly two years in the pandemic, the itch to party is real, and students believe people are turning to fashion to scratch it. Ella Hocker, junior in supply chain management, believes that this winter will be full of glammed-out trends, specifically in the nightlife sector. “Think jackets with fur piping, patterned stockings, jeweled fringe and feathers,” Hocker said. According to an article in Vogue Business, the fashion industry agrees. The post-pandemic fashion landscape is leaning toward full-on glam, and accessories and outerwear are no exception.

Not your grandma’s pearls: Speaking of trend revivals, Aubrey Celmer, junior in fashion merchandising, said America will be seeing a lot more of the 1930s staple this winter. “We’re seeing a rebirth of pearl jewelry,” Celmer said. Instead of seeing pearls in traditional, single-strand necklaces and stud earrings, Celmer said the classic jewelry piece is getting combined with mixed metals for a modern revamp. “Think touches of daintiness laced through the chunky styles we’ve been seeing in past seasons,” she said. “It’s dynamic and refreshing.” Topping it off: According to Hannah Cherrin, senior in apparel merchandising and SWATCH ambassador, winter headwear will be encompassing a lot more than beanies this season. Headscarves, in various forms, have recently been seen on runways worldwide. Cherrin emphasized the popularity of one specific variation, the balaclava. The balaclava, a fabric or knitted face mask previously reserved for ski slopes and combat, has been at the forefront of designer collections this winter. According to The Guardian, Depop searches for balaclavas have increased by 145% in the last month. This isn’t the balaclava’s first time in the trend cycle. According to an article in The Guardian, the headwear commonly goes through cycles of resurgence and backlash every few years. From Gucci’s 2019 withdrawal of the piece after wearing a controversial balaclava resembling someone donning blackface, to Nike’s 2018 controversy where the headwear was accused of “inciting gang violence,” its resurgence begs the question: have designers finally gotten it right? From fur-laced overcoats to reimagined battle gear, accessory trends this winter are creative to say the least, according to Cherrin. “America’s fashion today is still in the process of being developed and defined,” she said. “Right now, I would consider it to be a carefully crafted mess that reflects Americans’ day-to-day lives.” BROOKE FUCITO | PHOTO EDITOR

Spring 2022

The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle



Amazon still students’ go-to for shopping By BECCA BENNER Culture Writer

Amazon is an online marketplace for people to purchase personal items ranging from household needs to fashion and clothing. Amazon has many trending item searches such as fashion and electronics. Popular items are athletic wear, accessories and home decor. Lululemon, an athletic apparel retailer, is known for its shirts, shorts, leggings, tennis skirts and joggers, as well as its high prices. Amazon features joggers that are similar to the Lululemon joggers but at a lower price. To continue with the activewear trend, Amazon also has a bestselling tennis skirt by the Werena store. Not only does Amazon specialize in athletic wear, but they sell various accessories. Accessories are an important part of any outfit and add personality and interest to your attire, according to Shop Your Wardrobe. Hair clips are increasingly popular in the accessory department. They are also known as claw clips and have become popular through the social media and video app, TikTok. These hair clips are bringing back 90s trends that actress Jennifer Aniston used to rock, according to Vox. “We are in the midst of a years-long feedback loop that

is hellbent on resuscitating 1990s and 2000s trends; colloquially, it’s referred to as ‘Y2K fashion,’” wrote Vox writer Terry Nguyen in “The claw clip’s comeback.” Avery Richardson, junior in education, is one example of students using Amazon to find the best deals on hair clips. A recent survey sent to Auburn students on their favorite Amazon trends showed another popular find on Amazon: house decor. College students are typically trying to furnish their homes on a budget, and Amazon provides just that, like string lights, furniture and picture frames. Amazon also provides other everyday items in their technology department. According to Industry Today, the technology sector is the largest segment in the market, and Amazon has taken note. In December 2021, Good Housekeeping documented the Amazon’s top-50 bestselling products. The top 50 products include technology like the Echo Dot, video doorbells and speakers. There are also television necessities such as remotes and electronic reading devices like the Kindle. During the holiday season, Amazon featured many holiday highlights on its website. Holiday deals included cell phones and accessories, fashion, toys and beauty products. Amazon also had other categories like price, sports and dining utensils.

Amazon’s page featured an early Black Friday sale for additional discounts and a section specifically for home holiday decor. Its homepage acts as a guide to finding the perfect gift as it provides different tabs for each gift category. “Amazon is a great company because they have a wide array of products, excellent shipping times, and customer service,” said Abby Anderson, freshman in kinesiology. While college students often turn to Amazon for shopping, it also impacts local businesses. Wrapsody is a gift boutique in downtown Auburn. This business benefits from Amazon as they receive office supplies like binders and safety pins from the company. “It is pretty beneficial use-wise,” said Hannah Way, website manager at Wrapsody. She continued that Amazon has fast delivery, large inventory and good prices. On the other hand, many local businesses are impacted by Amazon because of the competition it poses. Crystal Tomasello is the owner of the local bookstore and coffee shop Well Red. She explained that Amazon gives good prices for books, so many people purchase their reading materials there instead. “Being an independent book store, you definitely have to compete for books,” Tomasello said. Despite the competition, Well Red still uses Amazon by purchasing baking items such as muffin cups and spices.


The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle

Spring 2022


Here’s The Plainsman staff’s book recommendations By HARLEE MEYDRECH Culture Writer

With the age of social media and advanced technology, the classic task of sitting down and reading a novel appears more unfamiliar than ever before. Per Time’s website, “The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the effects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.” Humans’ attention spans have devolved with not only the rise of new technologies, but also the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving little room for more activities such as reading or writing. The pandemic secluded people to their homes for months on end, leaving free time to peruse the Internet for entertainment. According to Time’s website, “In a recent survey of 300 American workers, about 40% said they feel less productive than usual during the pandemic.” The staff of The Auburn Plainsman breaks that mold of substituting literature for technology. A survey showed what the staff has been reading recently.

“Till We Have Faces” Abigail Stephenson, news writer for The Plainsman, said she is currently reading “Till We Have Faces,” a fictional work by C.S. Lewis. Lewis summarized, “‘Till We Have Faces” is a retelling of Cupid and Psyche. This representation of an old story has lived in the author’s mind, thickening and hardening with the years, ever since he was an undergraduate. “I love this book because Lewis uses characters and fantasy settings to tell a story of redemption and spirituality that I have been able to relate to in my life,” Stephenson said.


“The Nightingale” While the staff reads a variety of different kinds of books, the majority of the staff is currently reading a fiction novel. Another fiction work being read by a Plainsman staff member is “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah. “‘The Nightingale’ tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France,” Hannah said.


“The Authenticity Project” A couple of Plainsman staff members share a common favorite: “The Authenticity Project” by Clare Pooley. The novel follows the lives of six strangers whose lives are all jointly connected by a green notebook, filled with the deepest truths about their lives.


Spring 2022

The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle


WHAT’S TRENDING “Little Women” Abigail Murphy, operations editor for The Plainsman, is reading two works of fiction, “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, and “The Te of Piglet” by Benjamin Hoff. “I have been wanting to read ‘Little Women’ for a long time, but it’s also taking me forever to read because of all the reading I have to do for school,” she said. “I hope to finish it when I actually have time.”


“The Te of Piglet” Murphy enjoyed “The Te of Piglet” so much that she is reading it for a second time. “‘The Te of Piglet” is a re-read and it’s about applying Taoism philosophy to Winnie the Pooh characters. I can tell I’m overwhelmed, in general, so I put a pause on “Little Women” to recenter myself with some Taoism ideas,” Murphy said.


“Dune” Another Plainsman staff member is reading “Dune” by Frank Herbert. “Dune” is a dystopian science fiction novel with written in 1965. Herbert wrote, “Set on the desert planet Arrakis, “Dune” is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib. He would bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.”


“Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee” Callie Stanford, Plainsman sports writer, is reading a nonfiction work titled, “Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee” by Casey Cep. “It’s a super interesting novel,” Stanford said. “I had heard there was a Harper Lee book in the works that was never found, so it’s super cool to read about the facts of the case and it’s basically a local history lesson.” TRICE BROWN | MULTIMEDIA EDITOR

“Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” A few Plainsman staff members are occupying their time with nonfiction works, such as “Why Are All of the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” by Beverly Daniel Tatum and “Porn Work: Sex, Labor, and Late Capitalism” by Heather Berg. With a mix of fiction and nonfiction, both serious and lighthearted themes, The Plainsman staff reads books all across the board.



The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle

Spring 2022



Auburn University still bridging the gap for gender inclusivity By ABIGAIL MURPHY Operations Editor

After being repeatedly misgendered in class, a student at Auburn University went to their advisor to discuss this issue. In response, the adviser showed them the inclusivity website and the conversation ended there. Noa Hunter, sophomore in mathematics, said after this exchange, they realized they had wasted their time. Hunter identifies as nonbinary, someone who does not identify as a man or a woman. While the University does not have an official record of how many students are nonbinary, as of June 2021, a study by UCLA’s Williams Institute found 1.2 million adults in the U.S. identify as nonbinary. Auburn University offers Safe Zone training, Spectrum: the Gay-Straight Alliance, the ability to change pronouns in Banner operating systems and an all-gender restroom map

to help provide gender inclusivity for students who aren’t cisgender. Kamden Strunk, associate professor in education research, said having university policies helps, but students truly feel the impact on a cultural level. Hunter said they know it’s not fair to ask the University to change the community around them, but having more university staff, faculty and students be courteous toward gender identity would be a start. As of now, they said Auburn doesn’t feel like a safe place. “It’s almost ridiculous,” Hunter said. “I pay to go here. I pay tuition. I’m paying for a service, and then I can’t really enjoy the service because I’m afraid for my safety.” Hunter said while they don’t feel they will get physically assaulted on campus, that doesn’t mean there is not a concern about hate crimes or assaults off campus. They said, based on the emails about on-campus sexual assaults from last semester, they wonder how much action the University

would take if a hate crime or an assault were to occur. But it’s the little things that make being nonbinary difficult at Auburn, they said. Whenever they walk down Haley concourse, they feel all eyes on them. These daily occurrences made Hunter almost leave Auburn freshman year, but they had signed a lease, so they stuck it out. “I hated walking on campus,” Hunter said. “I hated having in-person classes. I hated almost every interaction I had with somebody on campus, even if it was supportive because it was still pointing me out as an openly queer person.” The only thing that has changed from this year to last year is more people are on campus so it can be harder to spot them in a sea of people, they said. Strunk said providing true gender inclusivity on campus is slowed because the University is a bureaucracy. While the Office of Inclusivity and Diversity would step in regarding a safety issue, he said they don’t have decision-making pow-

Spring 2022

The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle


STUDENT LIFE er. Inclusivity, in general, relies on every department to be held accountable, he said. “The provost or facilities or student life is who’s really in charge of the things that are happening with students,” Strunk said. “I think it’s sort of a mistake for us to turn to OID for answers on these things because they’re really public relations.”

Safe Zone training

Taffye Clayton, vice president and associate provost of the Office of Inclusivity and Diversity, said one way they try to spread gender identity awareness to the whole campus is through Safe Zone training. “The Safe Zone training is interactive, four-hour training designed to educate faculty, staff and students about sexual orientation and gender identity including education on pronouns and tools to ensure all students feel safe, accepted and valued,” she said. Brandy Smith, assistant director for training at Student Counseling and Psychological Services, runs the Safe Zone trainings. Smith said she focuses each training on what would be most helpful for those attending. There are scenarios they run through to help teach attendees how to handle certain situations regarding different sexual orientations and gender identities. “I view it as that two-pronged approach,” she said. “We want to help more of our campus and community feel more confident reacting to situations, and we also want to do more proactively so that students know that they are going to be valued and have a place of belonging. Because Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, is oftentimes not where LGBTQ+ students, faculty, staff or even allies, feel like they can be safe.” Safe Zone training is offered but not required. Smith said a decent number of people have taken them and then some of these people leave, but she said she hopes they carry this information with them to their next area.

Campus Pride Index Initiative Committee

In 2020, the CPI initiative committees were formed of faculty, staff and members of the student body with the goal of increasing Auburn’s Campus Pride Index. The Campus Pride Index is an evaluation for colleges on being LGBTQ+ friendly. Currently, Auburn University’s score is 2.5 out of 5 with some of the lowest scored sections being “LGBTQ Policy Inclusion,” “LGBTQ Campus Safety” and “LGBTQ Recruitment & Retention Efforts.”

Mary Grace Vinson, graduate student in social work and a nonbinary student, was on one of these committees. They said while the idea was good, the problem was the committees didn’t have any power beyond giving the University recommendations. “Fundamentally, it was geared toward PR,” they said. “It was geared toward making us look better and toward making the people who had been complaining be quiet, and they [the committees] all fizzled out without much of any impact.” Vinson said the committees were also not structured enough with few instructions. Additionally, they said the committees were flawed from the start as the focus was on improving a score rather than helping students, “which is inherently performative.”

Spectrum: the Gay-Straight Alliance

Spectrum is Auburn University’s on-campus Gay-Straight Alliance organization that holds weekly meetings and concourse days. While the organization provides a space for LGBTQ+ students and allies, Vinson and Hunter said one space to cover all of the LGBTQ+ community is not enough. Vinson said Spectrum at its core is a social group, which has its value, but “treating that as like the cure-all resource for queer people is weird.” Vinson said implying queer people can be lumped together is flawed. From listening to some of their friends, Vinson said their experience as a white queer person “is not even scratching the surface of the experience of being a gender non-conforming, nonwhite person at Auburn.” Smith also notes the importance of intersectionality, the impact of overlapping identities has on one another, when thinking about inclusivity and diversity issues. She said in the training they try to teach that a person is not just their gender identity or sexual orientation. They have dozens of other identities shaping and impacting them. “How can we really think fully about the broad range of diversity, so that we’re not tending to one part of diversity,” Smith asked. “I know, from the work that I do, that our campus is actually more diverse than it may appear. That’s part of why it’s so important for us to have environments where people can share themselves is because that literally helps make our campus better.”

Pronouns on Banner operating systems

Strunk also said policies for gender inclu-

sivity could help people beyond those who are gender non-conforming. Being able to change one’s name on Canvas can be helpful for those who go by nicknames. Also, some people have names that could fall under multiple genders so pronouns can be helpful for them as well, even if they are cisgender, he said. Clayton said OID partnered with the Office of Information Technology, the Biggio Center, Human Resources and the Office of the Registrar to enable students, faculty and staff to be able to change pronouns and names in banner systems. Banner systems include Canvas, AU email directory, AU Access, People Finder, Advise Assist, Degree Works, Tiger Scheduler and StarRez. Clayton specified to change the name on University records the individual must present a legal document that confirms the name change. Members of the campus community also have the ability to add pronouns and change names on Zoom as well. However, Vinson and Hunter said that unless everyone puts their pronouns it can feel othering. “I never felt comfortable, putting them because if even the teachers not going to have it, then it’s like, I’m going to stick out,” Hunter said. “I’m going to be the only one with personal pronouns in my name.” Hunter said as a STEM major the topic of pronouns is difficult. While they had the option to change their pronouns last semester during Zoom classes, they said they feared they would still be misgendered or experience microaggressions. Vinson said they felt the same way. “It’s just frustrating because more than it’s an affirming thing; it’s a respect thing,” Vinson said. “It’s just I have now told you how I want you to refer to me, and you either are intentionally circumventing that or you don’t care enough to figure it out.”

Going forward

Strunk said universities are places for people to explore their identity. In order for that to work, the institution has to provide an inclusive enough environment for people to do that to their fullest. It’s not that people aren’t trying to make Auburn an inclusive place, but there needs to be more, he said. Smith said if each individual does something small, it can make a big difference toward Auburn being a gender-inclusive campus. Smith said she has noticed little things like using gender-inclusive language on research surveys. She said she has noticed a pushback with pronouns and uses that as an

opportunity to have a conversation. “We also want to help people better understand that when we have more diverse experiences and perspectives, it enhances everybody’s experience in knowledge and how we’re able to serve,” she said. Hunter said the resources are out there, but the problem is the seeking of those resources falls on the students. To an extent, it is the student’s responsibility, but they want to see the University meet them halfway, they said. When Hunter walked into their adviser’s office that day, they said they felt like the conversation about queer issues should have happened sooner. From day one, Hunter said they should have been given knowledge and access to resources that would have made them feel less isolated and safer in the campus community. “It’s hard to make yourself go out of your way when you already feel like you’re making an issue out of something that a lot of people don’t even see as an issue,” they said.

Terms on gender identity According to Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays’ glossary page: Gender, a social construct, and sex, anatomical factors, are two separate categories. When someone’s sex assigned at birth matches their gender identity, they are considered cisgender. The concept that gender is strictly men and women, along with the gender roles assigned to each, is the gender binary. Nonbinary individuals are those who do not identify within the gender binary.


The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle

Spring 2022


COPING WITH LONG DISTANCE How couples separated by space find time to dwell on the good


As some students return from home and break, relationships return to the dreaded long-distance status. Hannah Paik, junior in early childhood education, met her boyfriend, Griffin, through mutual friends in their hometown. For Paik and her boyfriend, going home means a break from long distance. However, when Christmas break ends, Paik and Griffin return to Auburn and Southern Methodist University in Dallas, respectively. Both make efforts to otherwise see each other at least once a semester. cutline Long distance is no stranger to Hannah and Griffin. The couple has been dating for over a year, entirely long distance. Paik said the hardest part of long distance for them is finding the time to communicate. “The best thing we found that works for us is taking a day, most likely on a weekend, to sit down, have a ‘date night’ and talk about our week,” Paik said. “The biggest ‘hack’ I would say is communication and trust.” Bradley Forster, sophomore in aerospace engineering, met his girlfriend through a part-time job in high school. Both Bradley and Sarah were working at a fast food restaurant when sparks flew. Forster said their relationship only became long distance when he left for school. “We’ve been dating since my senior year of high school, almost two years now,” Forster said. “The hardest part honestly is just not being able to see her often. Not too much of a surprise there.” While Sarah resides in Huntsville,


Bradley is completing his undergraduate degree at Auburn. The two have found that communication is the key to success, Forster said. He said the two Facetime every night and “talk all the time” to keep the communica-

freshman in exercise science, said the two started long distance at the end of July when her family moved back to Birmingham. Then, the two started college with Carr at Auburn and John at Samford.

tion alive. “Also trust,” Forster said. “If you don’t have it, I cannot even imagine having a long-distance relationship without it.” Kara Beth Carr also met her boyfriend, John, when the two were in high school together in Knoxville, Tennessee. Carr,

“For me, the hardest part of long distance is the idea of making separate memories,” Carr said. “One of the best things about dating someone is creating memories together, and long distance just means that you will have separate friends and separate lives.”

To echo the advice of Paik and Forster, Carr said communication is her biggest ling distance “hack.” Carr said while both her and her boyfriend “push each other to be present in our respective circles and environments,” they still make sure to prioritize Facetime calls at night throughout the week and in their spare time. “If you are feeling off or having a weird day, tell each other,” Carr said. “Our biggest thing is being completely open and honest with each other about how we are doing.” Carr said the two also do “monthly progress reports.” This entails a detailed talk, once a month, when they are able to see each other in person. The reports allow the couple to present any frustrations they have or any change they wish to see in the upcoming months. Despite not being able to see each other often, Carr said these “reports” are an “amazing way to check in and be honest.” Akin to many other long-distance couples, the two are sure to see each other during breaks. Carr said she and John create a schedule to ensure that they are spending equal time in each person’s city. They prioritize family functions, specifically. “Long distance relationships are hard but so worth it if you truly love the person,” Carr said. “I try to dwell on the good memories and time we get together and keep my eyes fixed on the end goal of a future together … My tough love side would give the advice of if you do not see a future in it, don’t waste your time.” PAYTON DAVIS | GRAPHIC ARTIST

Spring 2022

The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle

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The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle

Spring 2022


Day trips: How to get out of town By JAYNE DUIGNAN Culture Writer

Looking forward to the weekend and want to break a monotonous routine in Auburn? There are plenty of places outside of Auburn to do so that are just a drive away. Here are some recommendations for day trips that Auburn students can take. Atlanta, Georgia Less than a two hour drive away, Atlanta is a hotspot for entertainment. From the Georgia Aquarium to indoor skydiving, Atlanta is full of endless options to explore for the day. Attractions such as Centennial Olympic Park, World of Coca-Cola, the Ferris wheel at Skyview Atlanta, the CNN Center, the College Football Hall of Fame and more are all located in Downtown Atlanta. Alternatively, celebrate the 2021 World Series Champions, the Atlanta Braves, in Battery Park. With all of this and more, Atlanta proves to be worth the visit.

Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Museum. For an outdoor activity, visit the Civil Rights Memorial to honor those who lost their lives in the Civil Rights Movement. After visiting the museums and taking in all of Montgomery’s history, take a trip to The Shoppes at EastChase to finish the day. “When I go to Montgomery I like to go to the EastChase shopping center,” said Katha-

Columbus, Georgia The Chattahoochee River Walk is Columbus’s main appeal. However, if a stroll down the river is not enticing, then try out whitewater rafting or kayaking on the Chattahoochee River. For a twist, there is even a zip-line over the river. “I went to Columbus with some friends one weekend, we got lunch at one of the restaurants in Uptown and walked around afterward and looked at some of the shops,” said Raeha Berbert, senior in speech language and hearing science. “I would definitely recommend it to Auburn students that haven’t been before. It’s a nice way to explore the different cities around us.” Near the River Walk lies Uptown Columbus. This destination includes restaurants, shopping, ice cream shops and axe throwing. Uptown Columbus is brought to life by the many art centers located throughout town. Experience what Columbus has to offer with a short 45-minute from Auburn.

rine Green, senior in public relations. “They have lots of outdoor areas to hang out but also plenty of shops that I could spend hours in.” Birmingham, Alabama Birmingham is another historical destination and a mustsee. Known as the Magic City, Birmingham offers endless activities to occupy the day. Birmingham has everything for everyone, including art exhibits, museums, parks, historical sites, restaurants and shopping. “I really enjoy making the day trip to go shopping in Birmingham,” said Jane Wickett, senior in nursing. “They have the big Summit shopping center, which has some of my favorite stores that Auburn doesn’t have.” According to the Birmingham Zoo website, the zoo is an ever-evolving adventure and a mustsee attraction in Alabama. Spend the day roaming around the home to hundreds of animals or take a ride on the Red Diamond Express Train. Cheaha State Park Take a break from studying and take a hike at Cheaha State Park in Delta, Alabama. Cheaha State Park is located at the highest elevation in the state. According to the state park’s website, for a five dollar admission fee, the park offers beautiful scenic views including waterfalls or trails that overlook Alabama.

Montgomery, Alabama Montgomery is the capital of Alabama and home to much of the state’s history. It is considered to be the location where the Civil Rights Movement began, and because of this, Montgomery is full of museums. This includes the Rosa Parks Library and Museum, the Alabama State Archives and History Museum and the ABIGAIL MURPHY | OPERATIONS EDITOR

The Earth Goddess in the Atlanta Botanical Gardens is one of the many things to see not far from Auburn.

Spring 2022

The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle



The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle

Spring 2022


column Being an Auburn Fan is about more than just football By SAMI GRACE DONNELLY Columnist

With football season over, everyone is nostalgic…and perhaps a little jealous watching other teams — that shall not be named — winning championships. Even though watching, traveling for and cheering on the football team is a major focus of Auburn students, being an Auburn fan is more than the highs and lows of this sentimental experience. Football evokes strong emotions in everyone, but it’s the possibility of win and risk of loss that keeps fans decked out, cheering and invested. People start to leave football games when it’s a guaranteed win or clear cut loss. The unknown is addictive and what fans truly desire. Everyone wants a “good game,” a game that keeps them on the edge of their seat. Besides, gameday encompasses more than two teams duking it out for a win. It’s about school spir-

it, community, tailgates, gameday dates, getting on the jumbotron, tradition, fun and coming together. One of my favorite Auburn memories is when I drove to Texas for the A&M game with some friends. That was a tough watch, believe me, but being in College Station with a ragtag gang of devoted fans was an experience I never want to forget. High up in the stands of Kyle Field, we started cheers, swag surfed, screamed our voices sore and experienced a strong sense of community. Even after the dismal loss, A&M fans were not too cruel, and we made some friends before driving home the next day. It’s easy to let loss dictate mood, but this mindset lacks some awareness: not everyone cares about football, and not all football fans even care about Auburn. I am a devoted Auburn fan and I have been for my entire life. Only a few years ago, I lived in Northern Virginia when Auburn played

the University of Virginia in the Final Four. I felt like I had a target on my back all week because it seemed like there was an army of UVA fans surrounding me. Then I thought life would be over at school the Monday after the loss; I was still heartbroken and quite livid. My stomach dropped when my principal announced, “UVA won this weekend and is going to the National Championship…Sami Grace!” over the intercom. We were friends enough for him to know I was an Auburn fan, and obviously enough for him to call me out over the speaker system. I wanted to get all the attention off myself until someone asked, “Where even is Auburn?” and someone else chimed in, “Yeah I’ve never heard of it until the game.” Ignorant as they were, they helped me realize something important: opposing fans really just care about their own team. What I had interpreted as Auburn-hate

was really just pride in their own team, a subtle difference that eased the pain of loss. Of course heckling and smack-talking are normal among sports fans, but it all boils down to love for one’s team. It’s easy to think like this because almost all we see from other schools is how they do in football (or other sports) on national television. We must remember that people and their schools are more than the stereotypes and caricatures given to them, and most people are just supporting their team because they love it. I believe in Auburn and love it. These lionized words close out the creed as a culminating truth. Auburn fans love Auburn, not just when they do well in football. I hope you’ll continue to love your school and enjoy the community around you now that football season is over. Also remember: it’s always great to be an Auburn Tiger…and besides, now there’s basketball!


Spring 2022

The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle



3,000 miles, five cities, one team: Auburn fans hit the road By NOAH GRIFFITH Sports Reporter

Auburn’s 2021 football season is officially in the books. One thing about this season is certain: Tiger fans traveled well, representing the team in dedicated fashion. “On the road, I wear mostly orange because it stands out on camera,” said Ronda Beesley, a 1984 Auburn graduate who has not missed an Auburn football away game since 2002. Auburn had five away games on the schedule this season. The Plainsman spoke with several students and fans who took the journey to support their teams on the road. Editor’s Note: Some quotes have been edited for clarity. Penn State: In Week 3, the Tigers traveled to Beaver Stadium for a match-up with Big 10 opponent Penn State. Also known as “Happy Valley,” Penn State was the farthest distance of any away game this season at 867 miles. Nathan Harrison, senior in computer engineering: “I think Penn State was my favorite trip because it was so different than anything I have ever experienced. Getting outside the SEC. Getting to see a white out. It was probably their biggest game of the season, and the energy there and going to College Gameday on ESPN and flying with friends.” Beesley: “Penn State had the loudest moments of any away game, but they weren’t consistently the loudest. The white out was fun to see, and some of the fans were very nice. We will treat them well when we host them next year.” Jack Hart, fifth-year senior in information systems and operations management: “Nothing is going on on campus during game day at Penn State. Everything is over by the stadium. It was such a classic, American college town. In fact, my roommate, who grew up in Italy, said that when he would imagine what an American college looked like, it matched exactly what he saw of Penn State. It was so beautiful there, and it was a great time

to go in late September.” LSU: On Oct. 2, Auburn hit the road to battle SECGM West rival LSU in Tiger Stadium. Hart described LSU as “the food destination of the SEC and probably the country” because of its restau- GM rants, and the way people will set up crawfish boils and cook for themselves instead of bringing in a catered meal. “You’re going to get food at LSU even if you don’t seek it out,” Hart said. “People are always handing it out from the tailgates.” Mary Margaret Flynn, senior in human development and family sciences: “It was cool to walk around LSU’s campus and see the school buildings like how it would be at Auburn. Their stadium was really close to campus, so I was able to get a campus experience that I couldn’t at South Carolina.” Joshua Andrews, senior GM in political science: “The atmosphere was amazing, they broke the streak of losses in Baton Rouge, and then we got to celebrate by the fence with the team and [athletic director Allen Greene].”




Arkansas: On Oct. 16, Auburn traveled to Fayetteville to take on the Hogs of Arkansas. Beesley: “There is so much to do there. I am

going to make sure we stay there longer in the future so we have time to do more.” Hart: “The activities, the cheering, the chants, the fan interactions and the PA announcers, it was all very pro-style.” Andrews: “The fans are always super welcoming, and their stadium [Razorback Stadium] was recently remodeled, which adds another cool element. Arkansas has their own unique chant ‘woo pig sooie’ which is their way of ‘calling the hogs’ on kickoffs.”

Texas A&M: GM On Nov. 6, the Tigers ventured into College Station for a ranked match-up with Texas A&M. Harrison: “Kyle Field is the stadium that surprised me the most. I’ve been to other big stadiums, but Kyle Field was not only very large but also very nice. That stadium felt like you were going to an NFL stadium as far as the gameday atmosphere and the stadium entrance and the concourse … When you look at it from the outside, it looks like a humon-




gous brick palace.” Harrison went to the “midnight yell” tradition in College Station with some Aggie fans. “All the fans arrive at the stadium at midnight and fill up one side of the lower bowl. The Yell Leaders lead the fans in the yells for the game the next day... It’s a pep rally mixed with practicing the yells. Kind of like a homecoming for the families that haven’t been there. Very unique,” Harrison said. Hart: “A really cool thing they did was march from the barracks, or their special dorms, all the way through campus in formation, and it’s basically a long military parade … That is a tradition you won’t find anywhere else in the country.” South Carolina: On Nov. 20, Auburn wrapped up its road slate for 2021 in Columbia in a game versus the Gamecocks. Flynn: “I think my favorite [away game] was probably South Carolina. Just because it was a fun environment to be in. Everyone that I met at South Carolina was super nice. They were very hospitable and welcoming.” Andrews: “It’s just a cool venue everyone should check out. They play ‘Sandstorm’ [song by Darude], and the student section gets into it by waving their white towels to the beat. It’s really cool to watch.” In Conclusion: Auburn fans were there to support the Tigers regardless of the game’s final score. “Auburn needs support on the road just as much as at home, and people don’t realize how much fun away games can be,” Beesley said. “It is a game in the end, but it’s just fun to see new places and how those people do things and travel with your team and support your team through thick and thin,” Flynn said. “When the clock hits zero, the outcome affects [the experience], but being three months removed looking back, it doesn’t,” said Harrison. “A win elevates the trip, but a loss definitely doesn’t take away from the trip.”


The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle

Spring 2022


Column: Flashback fashion — leotard looks from 2021 By EMILY PORCH Sports Writer

Women’s gymnastics is always a popular event at the Summer Olympics. Therefore, the evolving fashion of the athletes’ leotards is always a popular topic during these games. Designs have evolved from plain colors, to bold patterns, to crushed velvet and finally to the bedazzled designs we are used to seeing today. Women’s gymnastics was introduced as a NCAA sport in 1982. It was formerly competed under The Association of Intercollegiate Athletes for Women. The Auburn gymnastics program dates back to the 1890s, but it began to make an impact in 1965 when it officially began competing in intercollegiate gymnastics. The program was discontinued in 1970 but was officially reinstated in 1974 and has continued to compete since. Now that the gymnastics season is around the corner with some exciting new faces to watch compete this year, let’s look back at some of the leotards from the past season.

Florida — Jan. 8 The gymnastics squad opened the 2021 season at home against Florida wearing this white feather leotard with a blue ombre effect. I personally liked this leo as the design is not too crazy while also having the interesting feather design done in Auburn orange. The orange feathers set against the dark blue and white ombre is another striking detail. Kentucky — Jan. 15 In their first away contest at Kentucky, the Tigers brought out the silver leotards with an orange ombre at the end of the sleeves as well as orange details along the body of the leotard. The Auburn logo is also present on the back of the leo as well as some chrome detail on the bottom half of the piece. This has to be one of my favorites as the light silver color with the orange ombre and blocking lead to a really pretty leo.

Alabama — Jan. 22 Auburn pulled out a two-toned orange and blue leotard when it faced Alabama for the third meet of the season. These colors are the true team colors of Auburn University, and the rhinestone lines that cover the body add some detail to an otherwise pretty simple leotard. This one is not my favorite so far, but it is pretty. LSU — Feb. 5 The Tigers brought out their new “snakeskin” leotards for the meet against LSU. The body of the leotard is a blue and orange ombre with blue lines creating the “snakeskin” effect. The blue, sheer sleeves as well as the strategically-placed rhinestones along the blue lines create an interesting and striking look. While again not my favorite leotard, the Tigers have yet to miss with a design last season. Missouri — Feb. 12 For the Tigers’ away meet at Missouri, they brought out the pink and blue ombre leotards for breast cancer awareness. These leotards are stunningly simple, with the entire body one big ombre with rhinestone details along the chest and arms with the Auburn logo in rhinestones on the hip. This leo was also worn in the 2020 season before it was cut short by COVID. As a sucker for simple combinations, I really liked this design. Georgia — Feb. 19 Auburn’s home meet against Georgia brought the Tigers’ only win of the season last year in what has to be my favorite leotard. I am personally a fan of simple, clean designs that also look good. This leotard is another new design that was introduced and it is the same color blue throughout with silver and orange rhinestone ribbons all down the torso. Like I mentioned before, this leo has to be near the top of my list due to the simple nature of the design.

Florida — Feb. 26 The Tigers next faced the Florida Gators again, but this time in Gainesville. Another new leotard was introduced and this time it was one that featured the tiger stripes of Auburn’s mascot. While I like the nod to tigers, this design was a little wild for me. The way the stripes differed on the arms and the torso of the leotard as well as the ombre thrown in there really made the design clash. While still not a bad leotard, this one will probably rank pretty low for me. A season-high road score was scored in these leotards. Arkansas — March 5 For Auburn’s final meet of the regular season and senior night, a new leotard was revealed as the “firecracker”. This last leotard will also rank high on my list of last season’s leos. The ombre on both the sleeves and the body go really well together and make the design come together well. The sleeves start with a light blue/ white and darken into Auburn navy. The body of the leo starts with white and a collar of rhinestones to end with Auburn orange to create just a really beautiful leotard. SEC Championships In the Tigers’ final meet of the season, they unveiled a final new leotard for the SEC Championships, which was aptly named the “rocket” leotard thanks to the meet taking place in Huntsville, Alabama. Once again, this leotard features a solid, dark blue body with silver and orange rhinestone details that decorate the chest as well as wrapping around the arms. Overall, the Tigers’ leotards were all beautiful and there was not one design that I just did not like. As the team looks to tackle this new season, I cannot wait to see what new designs they may have in store for us as well as their gymnastics. Editors note: All photos credited to Auburn Athletics.

Spring 2022

The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle




The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle

Spring 2022


Jordan-Hare Stadium Days Remaining

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Operation Iron Ruck carries more than just a football By CALEB JONES Sports Editor

As participants of Operation Iron Ruck walk across Alabama from Tuscaloosa to Auburn, their shirts say different things. Some say “Auburn” and some say “Alabama,” but they all carry backpacks over their shoulders. The backpacks all weigh the same — 22 pounds. It honors and brings attention to the 22 veterans that, statistically, commit suicide everyday — a number that has since dropped to 17 because of events like Operation Iron Ruck. Operation Iron Ruck was started in 2018 by the Auburn Student Veterans Association as a fundraiser to raise awareness for veteran suicide. Members of the ASVA coordinate with the University of Alabama and its Campus Veterans Association to walk 151 miles between Tuscaloosa and Auburn to deliver the game ball ahead of the Iron Bowl. “We’re tired of seeing the people that we care about think that their life isn’t worth it and ending it,” said Andy Cole, communications director for the ASVA. “Most of us know it from personal experience. We kind of looked at it as ‘What can we do to try and help this?’ This was our way of doing it. A lot of people are not aware of just how bad an epidemic that [veteran suicide] actually is.” According to a U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs report released in September 2021, the number of veteran suicides has been decreasing since 2017. Still, veterans — despite making up 7% of the population in the 2018 U.S. Census — represent 13% of suicides in the U.S. each year. As participants of Operation Iron Ruck

trek across the state, they raise money and donate to various charities that rotate each year. This year’s ruck made donations to the Tuskegee Homeless Shelter, Mission 22 and Three Hots and a Cot, which helps veterans facing post-traumatic stress disorder and homelessness, respectively. The four-day journey begins the Wednesday before the Iron Bowl, as three teams — the red team, white team and blue team — split time on Alabama backroads on their way to the stadium. Each team does a stretch of seven miles before the next team takes over. This happens around the clock, 24 hours a day, until they reach the stadium. Along the way, each team has a designated driver that helps with transportation when it’s not the team’s turn to walk. And while the event takes four days, planning it takes 365. “The second the ruck is over, the planning for next year starts,” Cole said. “You have to get your funding in place. This requires sponsors to put it on. We don’t keep any of the profits, but we do have to cover our expenses. You have to gauge with the student bodies. Then you have to plan out your routes, where you’re going to be sleeping at, transportation, food, all the above.” This year was Cole’s second year participating in the ruck, which over the years has grown to nearly 60 participants in 2021. “Iron Ruck in 2018 compared to the [Iron] Ruck in 2021 is two different animals,” Cole said. “It was very small, they didn’t have a police escort. It was ‘Alright, we’re coming down the road,’ and that’s just how it was.” The ruck is a mix of Auburn and Alabama military service members that may not nec-

essarily know each other but still share a bond over their military background. Music is played and the mood is kept light as the teams get to know each other along the way. By the end of the ruck, the bond between them has grown even stronger. “I remember the very last seven miles, we’re walking into Auburn, it’s nine o’clock at night and it’s freezing cold,” Cole said. “I’m looking over, and every single person that didn’t know each other was sitting there in deep conversation.” The backpacks filled with toiletries, socks and towels were still on. Temperatures were dropping as the late November weather set in. Cole, who had served as his team’s DJ, let the music fade out.

But it wasn’t silent. “It was like nobody even noticed because they were in such deep conversation with each other,” Cole said. “That’s what it did for us, it helped us. You gotta have those conversations about your past experiences to try to prevent it from happening again.” There was a greater cause at hand, and when the stadium came within view on game day, the accomplishment started to sink in for the second-year participant. “It’s almost breathtaking,” Cole said. “The sense of accomplishment that you have in your head is great. We didn’t smell great, we didn’t look great, but we’re carrying those flags and the dog tags representing the ones that we lost.”


Participants in Operation Iron Ruck walk 151 miles to deliver the game ball ahead of the Iron Bowl, raising awareness for veteran suicide along the way.

Spring 2022

The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle




Auburn basketball student section, known as The Jungle waves a banner before a game against Yale on Dec. 4, 2021, in Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.

The Jungle roars again at full capacity By CALLIE STANFORD Sports Writer

Auburn basketball’s return to full capacity crowds has brought the rousing return of its renowned student section. The Jungle is not only a facet of the in-game experience but also radio and television broadcasts. Work behind the scenes helps to create the cohesive front seen by outsiders. Jacob Hillman, president of The Jungle and senior in journalism, has been an active participant in his time at Auburn and now holds a role that oversees various activities that make The Jungle what it truly is. The Jungle was recently promoted to an official student organization, allowing their reach to expand further. “That’s a huge deal because we also have a voice now in the SGA, and I think that’s really a big part to where it’s not just ‘show up to basketball games,’” Hillman said. “We’re just starting out, but we’re trying to set it up for in the future, where The Jungle is kind of an all-of-Auburn athletics type deal.” Currently, The Jungle is a name most closely associated with Auburn men’s basketball. The new organization elects a six-member leadership team that coordinates with the University’s marketing department to craft the gameday experience. Shakers, Jungle T-shirts and ACME brick signs are coordinated by University marketing and The Jungle and then distributed throughout the general admission floor seating made available to students. These distributions are coordinated with

game themes and color schemes planned out by the leadership team before the season. “It’s kind of a tandem thing. We work with Dan Heck, who’s the marketing director at Auburn,” Hillman said. “It’s just kind of us working together to… make sure it’s easy to hand those things out and that someone’s not overwhelmed with that.” Another well-known tradition is the large “Fear the Jungle” banner thrown over the students for tipoff. This banner stays in Auburn Arena, and its timing is coordinated between Jungle leadership and marketing interns. “Right as the national anthem hits, we get it ready to come out. And once the national anthem is over, we get it set outside,” Hillman said. “Once the fight song hits right before tipoff, that’s when we send it up. It’s a fun experience to be a part of.” The Jungle has had an increasing presence on television broadcasts, so encouraging students to dress according to a theme is another way the Jungle separates itself from other student sections. Cohesion is an important detail when the leadership team plans its themes. “You want to look good just like you want to sound good,” Hillman said. “Obviously, the most important thing is to be loud and be hectic to bring the best environment possible, but I also think it’s important where you look good on the broadcast.” And with The Jungle seating surrounding the lower bowl of Auburn Arena, it’s hard to miss. “It just really gets you into the game and you think, ‘Wow.

Everyone’s bought in and ready to do this,” Hillman said, “It’s just a fun thing to be a part of.” Basketball games are more accessible to students who may be casual fans. To attend football games, students have to purchase tickets over the summer, arrive early to games to secure preferable seating and endure whatever the weather conditions may be that day. To attend basketball games, students only need present their university ID. Floor seating is first come, first served, and those arriving later are allowed to stand throughout the arena. Basketball’s accessibility makes it a simpler, less time-consuming viewing experience than football, which is necessary since a majority of the games are played on weeknights. Current sophomores and freshmen had not experienced a full-capacity Auburn Arena as students prior to this season, due to the pandemic. It’s an environment, facilitated by The Jungle, that Hillman has learned to cherish. “This year, we look at it like we have two freshman classes, because you as a sophomore, you’ve been to Auburn Arena, been to an Auburn basketball game, been to the football games, but this year is when you truly experience how it truly is,” Hillman said. “Coming off the COVID year, it’s great to be back in the best environment in college basketball and enjoying it while we can. Personally, what I realized with 2020 ending the way it did was that I can’t take any of this for granted because I’m only here for four years.”

Spring 2022

The Auburn Plainsman: Lifestyle


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