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The Auburn Plainsman online at THEPLAINSMAN.COM






Council approves Crouch for city manager

Students sign S/U grading petition

By CHARLIE RAMO Section Editor

big goal this year. The faster we can get that stuff in place, the faster the wins will come.” The Tigers face their first matchup this week, but Crouch is less concerned with the team on the other side of the net. The new program is working on itself first. Auburn has been working on breaking old habits and pushing comfort zones. “That’s going to be a big challenge because whenever you get into battle, and the juices are flowing, the adrenaline is going, you tend to do the things that are the most comfortable,” Crouch said. “What’s most comfortable for them is what they’ve done the last four years. So, getting them to not do that and say we’re going to try these new things even though it’s on television versus Florida.” Veteran players are showing up to take that step, like senior blocker Chesney McClellan. McClellan played in an even 100 sets last season and ended the season with 70 total blocks. “I think Chesney in the middle is a


During Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, the Council unanimously approved the appointment of Assistant City Manager Megan Crouch to the city manager position, effective Feb. 1, 2021. City Manager Jim Buston will retire on Jan. 31. During Citizens’ Communications, multiple residents spoke to the Council in support of Crouch’s appointment. Representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, economic development department and Auburn University spoke in her support. Ward 2 Council member Kelley Griswold spoke against the preselection of a candidate. He said his concerns stemmed from his own experience in the military. Regardless, he said he is in support of Crouch as the next city manager. During his announcements, Mayor Ron Anders sent his condolences to Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, whose wife passed away earlier in the day. Auburn Student Government Association City Relations Manager Abby Ronson announced to the Council that the University has waived application fees and standardized testing requirements due to the pandemic. Ward 7 Council member Bob Parsons asked about a contract entering the City into a lawsuit regarding the opioid epidemic. Buston explained that some pharmaceutical companies were in malpractice for advertising of opioids, specifically in their addictive properties. Multiple communities have entered lawsuits against these companies to recoup the costs of law enforcement when dealing with the opioid epidemic. Auburn is not starting a lawsuit, instead entering an existing one, Buston explained. Most states have an ongoing lawsuit. The City will not put money towards the lawsuit, only receiving funds if a settlement is made. The City, in turn, is allowing its name to be used in the lawsuit. Buston said the City has not had to budget specifically to combat any opioid epidemic. Ward 8 Council member Tommy Dawson said that the opioid epidemic is a hidden cost incurred by the police department. Though he does not want to take money from a pharmaceutical company for the actions of a drug addict, he feels it is fair to settle for money to bring back to the community. Witten and Ward 4 Council member Brett Smith agreed that the Council was told information in an executive session which may be


Auburn’s new volleyball coach Brent Crouch during the Tigers practice.

» See COUNCIL, 6

Provost: ‘not going to consider pass, fail for the fall’ By SARAH GIBSON

unsatisfactory” grading system used for the spring 2020 semester, but they were unsure how to approach the idea. So, Prochaska took the initiative and launched one herself. The petition, addressed to Jay Gogue, calls for the fall 2020 semester to be switched to having a pass, fail option to account for the online school learning curve. “I actually had just received a really bad grade on a test when I saw these messages, and I decided that I wanted to start this petition for every one struggling this semester,” Prochaska said. “This semester is not as easy as it has been in the past. College is not


As Auburn students have navigated their way through a different semester with many classes online, some have said they are finding schoolwork behind a screen more challenging than face-to-face instruction. McKenna Prochaska, sophomore in law and justice, saw her fellow students in a class of 2023 group chat discussing these issues. They wanted to start a petition to the University to reintroduce the “satisfactory,

easy, but this year especially has been extremely difficult for everyone.” Prochaska said in the group chat, many people were saying that they would sign it, but no one was actually making the petition. “I know I am just one person, but I like to help a lot of people, so I made the petition,” Prochaska said. “I sent it to so many different group messages.” Prochaska used Change.org to create the petition, although she explained there were » See GRADING, 2


AU Volleyball looking to start new era By MATTISON ALLEN Writer

Auburn volleyball starts the season against No. 4 Florida. This is the Tigers’ first time to take the court as a new team under a new coach. That coach is Brent Crouch. Crouch spent the past two seasons at the University of Southern California, guiding it to two straight NCAA Tournament appearances. He is now trying to revamp the Auburn program after the Tigers had a 7-22 overall record in 2019. In his first season, Crouch is hoping to set a solid foundation for seasons to come. The big goal this year for Crouch is implementing his system and style upon the Tigers. “I think it’s entirely about getting them to understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it and what the level needs to be at which we do it,” Crouch said in an interview with The Plainsman. “There are cultural things; these are foundational things; they’re fundamental movement things; they’re system things — that is the


University reports 11 COVID-19 cases; lowest since August By TIM NAIL Section Editor

Auburn University reported a total of 11 new COVID-19 cases for the week ending Oct. 18. The University’s COVID-19 Resource Center updated its weekly data on Thursday afternoon, which has continued to decrease. This is the lowest number of cases reported since the

beginning of the fall semester and a continuous decrease since the week ending Sept. 6. All 11 cases were recorded on Auburn’s main campus. A total of 419 sentinel tests were conducted during the week ending Oct. 18 as part of the GuideSafe Sentinel Testing Program, with 0.48% of these tests returning a positive COVID-19 result. This was a greater number of tests

conducted than in the previous week. In a weekly update video released by the University, Dr. Fred Kam, director of the Auburn University Medical Clinic, said he believes the end of in-person fall classes on Nov. 24 is “very doable [and] very reachable” with the pattern of case numbers seen this semester. “The things that we need to

BUSINESS Auburn alumna finds sweet spot in Opelika The owner of Tart and Tartans never dreamed she’d open her own bakery ... until she did. Page 12


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continue to do include wearing your mask, physically socially distancing, sanitizing your hands and finally, limiting your interactions with other people and keeping your social bubble to a minimum, especially as you are considering going home ... and potentially interacting with some of your vulnerable family members,” Kam said as a reminder to students.

Kam said both Auburn and Lee County COVID-19 numbers have trended low, but people should be aware that cases are rising statewide and beyond. “Across the state, there are signs that there are new cases that are starting to bump up,” he said. “Nationally, we are seeing a rise in new cases in a number of states — over 40 to be exact — and interna-

tionally we are definitely seeing the second wave happening in Europe and Canada and some other countries. With that comes some new restrictions.” Kam said there have been documented cases of people contracting the virus again but this number of people has been “very small.” However, » See COVID-19, 2

News 24/7 on our website Go online to theplainsman.com SCAN ME!









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he said those who have recovered from the coronavirus should continue to follow recommended safe health guidelines. “It’s too early for us to tell what percentage or what degree of people can get reinfected,” Kam said. “Right now, my advice is to treat it as though you can get reinfected [and] to treat everyone as though they are infected. That way, you will decrease your risk of getting reinfected.” On the topic of masks and face coverings, Kam said wearing a mask is important as it is the most effective means of preventing the spread of COVID-19 because it is a respirato-

GRADING » From 1

many different ways to go about starting a petition. She said the petition has been shared at least 2,397 times. “I definitely did not think my petitions would have as many signatures as it did,” Prochaska said. “There are over 6,750 signatures on the petition currently.” As of publication, that number has grown to over 7,000 signatures. In the petition, it states that Auburn University should open up a pass/fail option to students due to the virtual format of many classes. The petition also explains that students are not getting the equivalent in-depth conversations that an in-person class supplies. Prochaska is a transfer student from Southern Union State Community College, which did not offer pass/fail last semester even though part of the semester was also all virtual for her classes. “I am a student who spends most of my time studying, and I always complete my assignments on time,” Prochska said. “The test I took that I said earlier I didn’t feel like I did well on would have been a lot better if we were all able to be together as a class.”




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ry virus. “You should be wearing masks as often and all the time if you can, both indoors and outdoors, on transit, wherever you can,” he said. “This works, the science is there. Should you be exposed to the virus, there is scientific data that says wearing a mask will reduce your degree or the amount of inoculation of the virus you will get. It will tend to make your symptoms ... mild or asymptomatic.” When the University was evaluating steps to take to make campus safer this semester, Kam said requiring masks was Auburn’s first priority. Though the University has rescinded its mask requirement for outdoor areas implemented the second day of classes, Kam said he continues to wear his wherever he goes in public.

Prochaska said she wants to go to law school after earning an undergraduate degree, and she does not want this semester to ruin her chances of getting into a good graduate school with all the unforeseen challenges COVID-19 has caused. “I contacted the Office of the President because I actually wanted to go in there and talk to someone about it,” Prochaska said. “On Tuesday, Oct. 20, [I had] a meeting with the associate provost for academic effectiveness.” When she met with Norman Godwin, associate provost for academic effectiveness, Prochaska said her plan was to print out all the signatures on the petition, the point of which was to highlight the students who were out of town. This would show how many students do not have all of the resources that the campus provides as some might be taking classes during the semester from their hometowns. However, Prochaska said that when she went to go print the signatures, it would have cost $70, so she decided to just highlight the out-of-town signatures on her laptop instead. Prochaska said more than half of the signatures were signed by people in areas other than Auburn. She explained that many students were not able to come to



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“[Even though] it has changed to indoors mandatory, outdoors optional if you can keep distance, you will not see me in the outdoor areas without my mask,” Kam said. “I wear it indoors and outdoors.” As for what type of mask Kam recommends, he said people might have to deal with some discomfort with masks that are more effective, but they should wear one they will regularly make use of. “The more uncomfortable the mask is to wear, the more likely it’s protective,” Kam said. “Wear a mask that you are going to consistently wear. It’s of no use if you’re going to wear an uncomfortable mask but wear it very infrequently. It would be better that you wear a mask that is comfortable for you that you can be consistent with and wear it as much as you can.”

campus and have an in-person meeting with a professor, and that they are not able to get the one-toone teaching style. She also said that when there are any in-person teaching moments, masks cause a lot of distractions when it comes to seeing people face-to-face. At an Auburn University Senate meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 20, Provost Bill Hardgrave announced that the University did not intend to extend the satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading options to students this fall. Hardgrave said this decision was reached after considering four factors: midterm grades, the extension of the deadline to drop classes, problems caused by the pass/ fail grading system and how many students would actually use it. According to the provost, midterm grades — specifically in core classes — have mostly been either average or higher this semester. “We looked at the midterm grades, as we always do, in our core courses in particular,” Hardgrave said. “The percentage of A’s is higher than in the previous five fall semesters.” Hardgrave added that the percentage of F’s have remained roughly the same, but D’s and C’s have gone down. “Overall, grades look good relative to previous semesters,” he

said. The second reason that Hardgrave said the University wouldn’t offer a pass/fail option was because the University had already extended the date for students to drop a class. Usually, the last day to drop a class without a grade penalty is early in the semester, but this fall it was extended to Nov. 24, the last day of classes this semester before exams begin after Thanksgiving. Students who drop a class on that day will still receive a “W” on their transcript and will not receive credit for the course; however, their GPA will not be impacted. Hardgrave said the third reason why the University won’t offer a pass/fail option is the potential complications that could arise for students who choose this option. “Some courses serve as a gateway to other courses,” he said. “[And] you can run into issues when applying to graduate school if you have a pass/fail on your transcript.” The final reason that Hardgrave talked about was how few students utilized the pass/fail option when it was offered last spring. “So when you consider all that, we are, at this point, not going to consider pass/fail for the fall. It just doesn’t seem like something that’s needed given the grades and the issues that it causes,” he said.


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vocal leader already,” Crouch said. “She’s a talented blocker. I see her stepping up in practice and saying good things and lifting the group up.” More leaders for the Tigers this season are within the libero position. Crouch said many of the leaders who choose to lead by example all serve here defensively. One of those liberos is junior Bella Rosenthall. Rosenthall played every set for the Tigers last season and ended with the second-highest amount of digs on the team with 307 total digs. “[Rosenthall] is out of that group with the same effort level and same energy level, but she’s pretty vocal too,” Crouch said. “You’re going to hear her voice more than anyone else in practice. I expect her to have a nice year. I expect a lot of the liberos to just be generally, kind of, the anchor of the team. They touch a lot of the first balls, and they do a good job of it. They really set the tone with their effort level.” Crouch believes it’s not until the third year of a new program that you totally rely on scouting your opponent. However, scouting does matter when your first pair of matches is against a top 5 team. Florida is starting the season at No. 4, while the Tigers remain unranked. Auburn volleyball is not backing down from the challenge that Florida brings to the Plains. “I think it’s an awesome challenge,” Crouch said. “I think watching practice yesterday; I thought they are dialed in right now. I thought they were absolutely battling, very aggressive the way they were playing. If they can do that again tomorrow, I’m going to be very happy, win or lose.” Auburn will face off against Florida on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. CST and will be broadcasted on the SEC Network. The second match against Florida will be on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. CST and will air on ESPNU.

Correction: In last week’s edition, The Plainsman incorrectly stated that during the City Council’s work session, Ward 2 Council member Kelley Griswold said that the public relations department could find a candidate to fill the city manager position. He instead said that the City’s human resources department could find a candidate to fill the position. This mistake has been fixed online. The Plainsman regrets this error and apologizes to our readers.

opinion THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2020




It’s time to reckon with AU’s troubled LGBTQ history By EDITORIAL BOARD Fall 2020

In late October 1990, Auburn’s SGA finally removed an antiquated policy that had prevented Auburn’s Gay and Lesbian Association from receiving a long-sought-after probationary charter for official recognition on Auburn’s campus. Seemingly a small addition to Auburn’s long list of student organizations — especially considering the small nature of the group — the new status brought about some pushback from some students in the short term, but the decision led to massive backlash from student leaders and controversy that reached the national spotlight in the years to come. A year after AGLA received its probationary charter and nearly a decade after the University of Alabama went through its own turbulent period in bringing a student organization for the LGBTQ community to campus, Auburn’s SGA President Jon Waggoner vocally opposed extending AGLA’s status as a permanent student organization. “Sexual orientation was not a basis for an organization, and more than that, sexual activity that is against the law was not a basis for an organization,” Waggoner said in a clip that went viral in the ‘90s. “We don’t have a murder society. We don’t have a pedophile society.” Waggoner, who currently serves as Secretary to the Board of Trustees at Auburn, has since publicly expressed regret for his views and personally apologized to prominent leaders of AGLA. However, even though it is now viewed by Auburn’s modern-day SGA as a colossal screwup on the part of the University, at the time this became a rallying point for many students and members of the Auburn community to display homophobia and show off some of the more appalling parts of Auburn’s cultural climate and history. In light of the 30th anniversary of AGLA

— now known as Spectrum: Auburn’s Gay Straight Alliance — receiving the first official recognition of a LGBTQ presence on campus and this month being LGBTQ History Month, it’s incumbent upon the University and every member of the Auburn Family to do everything in their power to recognize our fraught history and affirm ourselves in our mission to create a more equitable University. Although the level of controversy that was caused by the mere existence of an LGBTQ group on campus may seem like a relic of a different time, recent events demand a reevaluation of the University’s values and a social reckoning for the Auburn Family. Last year, an investigative story by The Plainsman revealed public Facebook posts made by Bruce Murray, a professor with tenure in the college of education, that were perceieved to be homophobic and transphobic. These posts led to larger discussion about the campus climate for the LGBTQ community as a whole. In the weeks that followed the publication of the story, many members of the Auburn campus and community wrote letters about the reality of the environment at a University that brands itself as diverse and inclusive. Auburn responded to the story with a vague statement on Murray’s remarks. The University later made a more substantive response, after pressure from students, faculty and staff at Auburn. Contrast this with how the University handled social-media posts made by an incoming English instructor. In May, Jesse Goldberg tweeted upon his news of hiring at Auburn that he would not be saying “War Eagle” because of his pacifist views. Auburn community members, alumni and others got on Twitter to let Goldberg know they felt his opinions were an afront to everything that is Auburn. Later that summer, there was frenzy when Goldberg said the only ethical deci-

sion police officers could make at this time is to resign from their duties in the midst of a broader national discussion on social justice. The tweet saw an onslaught of online hate messages and threats of violence, as well as calls for Goldberg’s firing, even garnering a tweet from Donald Trump Jr., the son of the president of the United States. Unlike Auburn’s vague response for Murray’s posts, Goldberg received quick and harsh condemnation from the University. In the first public comments by AuWburn, University officials told WRBL that the tweet was hate speech and simply wrong. The University dialed back some of the language in their comments on the matter in subsequent statements, but the University’s approach to the situation was completely unrecognizable compared to how it handled Murray’s posts. Last December, Auburn announced it was taking steps in the coming months to address concerns for the LGBTQ community in Auburn, including developing LGBTQ-focused education and training, implementing a preferred name and pronoun functionality within the banner system and expanding LGBTQ support services. However, there are still many institutional barriers of oppression that exist throughout Auburn’s campus. There is still no dedicated space for the LGBTQ community on campus, no pride center, no LGBTQ resource center and no full-time staff member to help students within the community navigate what can be an extremely tumultuous time for LGBTQ people in Auburn. There is still a need to address systemic issues at Auburn. Gerda Zinner, who received a master’s degree in history from Auburn and went by Max at the time, eloquently wrote about this in their thesis. “There is an important distinction between legal rights and social realities, as they relate to marginalized populations, such as

the queer community,” they said. Possibly even more concerning is Auburn’s consistent reputation and ranking as one of the least welcoming and friendly campuses for the LGBTQ community by The Princeton Review. The Princeton Review has no relation to Princeton University in any way. For the better part of the last decade, Auburn has been ranked as one of the 10 least LGBT-friendly campuses across the country by the higher-education publication. While the University also consistently receives high marks for its student happiness in the annual rankings, student responses that determine the rankings show that our enjoyable and enriching college experience is often reserved only for the straight, cis, white majority at Auburn. Zinner, who spent nearly a decade as a student at Auburn for undergraduate and graduate studies, believes Auburn has undoubtedly come a long way from where it once was when the sitting SGA president could be seen on national TV spouting homophobic views. But she still believes Auburn has a long way to go, and the perpetual lack of responsiveness and ability to progress toward a more equitable university is disheartening. “I saw a couple different cycles of ‘Oh, we’re going to really talk about diversity,’ and one wants to be optimistic, but it’s also concerning because you see similar cycles repeating themselves: there’s a crisis, there’s an issue, there seems to be increased discussion, but then that push for change falls by the wayside,” she said. So, as we look back on some of the more regrettable parts of Auburn’s past during LGBTQ History Month, let’s do all we can to ensure the University effects substantive, institutional reform. Moreover, as members of the Auburn Family, let’s hold one another accountable in our mission to strive for the betterment of all and the creation a just society.


Students finally get to be more than their ACT scores By JONATHAN STUCKEY Columnist

In a monumental decision for the incoming class of applicants, Auburn has decided to wave standardized testing for students who are unsatisfied with their scores since they were unable to retest last spring. This has been a popular decision and over 20 Alabama colleges have adopted the same plan. It also seems to have positively resonated with many new applicants. Many institutions have been test-optional for years, and the conversation on this subject has been prevalent for Auburn applicants for quite some time now. The consensus is clear: Students’ academic hunger and abilities are not and should not be judged merely by a standardized test score. Yes, there should be an academic standard to which a student is held for admission, but again, the standardized test should not be the end-all-be-all. At Auburn, there are other options for students who choose not to send in their ACT scores “They will send in one of these supplemental documents: AP/IB scores, expanded resume, or graded writing ss-

signment,” said Allison Saggus, associate director of admissions, in an email. Whether or not a student sends their ACT scores, they should feel assured that they have a fair chance of a reviewing since “Auburn does not use a minimum GPA or test score for admission,” Saggus said. “Auburn has not used a minimum GPA or test score for admission- in the past 11 years, at least!” As every student has, I’ve had experience in the application process. I was deferred my senior year of high school and was told last year by an admissions counselor that my highschool GPA and resume were great, but that my ACT score fell one point short of the minimum. Since this year’s application process is now test-optional, every student who could fathom attending Auburn should apply. It seems that this year will be the most advantageous year for applicants, as they will be able to express their academic achievements and dreams without having a test score glued by their name. There can be fear and resentment after hearing of cases like mine, but that is only to show there can be inconsistencies. As time moves forward, it would be assumed that the inconsistencies will improve.

If done honestly, this holistic reviewing of applicants will allow for more diversity in academic and life backgrounds. Students should have tremendous respect and trust for the admissions office since without it. none of us would be here; their task is no easy one, by far. But there is a great standard to which they must uphold in objectively reviewing the applicants in this new format. If done successfully this year, it is a hope of many that there will be a permanent test-optional application for students in the future. “We will review the 2021 admissions process, the goals we’ve been given based on the strategic plan and landscape of college admissions to determine how to best move forward for 2022,” Saggus said. Will standardized testing be a thing of the past? Let’s hope not, as testing holds a student to somewhat of a standard and just by taking it can instill the image of the student’s will to dedicate their time and thought into such rigor. But as the world evolves during and because of this virus, our norms are challenged and some can and should be positively affected.




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Newly installed signage dedicates the Student Center to Harold Melton as seen on Oct. 21, 2020, in Auburn, Ala.

AU Senate briefed on building names progress By TIM NAIL Section Editor

During Auburn University Senate on Tuesday, Oct. 20, members of the University administration spoke to faculty about the Auburn Board of Trustees’ task force for buildings and monuments. The task force formed in June in the wake of racial demonstrations over the summer. Jon Waggoner, corporate secretary to the Board of Trustees, said the task force has been “very busy” regarding actions it can take to improve experiences of Auburn students from diverse backgrounds moving through college. Action items the task force is considering are planned for the immediate future, which Waggoner said are priority, and for the University’s long-term outlook. “The board realizes the most impactful way to attract and recruit more diverse students is to focus on those who are here now and to make sure they are having a good experience while they’re at Auburn,” Waggoner said. “For that reason, the task force wanted to first focus on the most positive, visible things it could accomplish to really show its engagement.” One way the board hopes to achieve more diversity, equity and inclusion on campus is through the National Panhellenic Legacy Plaza, a project under construction that aims to honor the history of traditionally Black Greek life organizations. The trustees approved the project at their July 9 board meeting. “That will be built here soon right in

the middle of campus, and it’ll be a nice feature in recognizing the contributions of the traditionally Black fraternities and sororities,” Waggoner said. At its Sep. 4 meeting, the board went on to dedicate the Student Center to Supreme Court of Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton, Waggoner said. Melton, a 1988 Auburn graduate, was the first Black SGA president. “As an aside, [Melton] was president of the student government when I arrived at Auburn and was really great to me then,” Waggoner said. “He’s been a mentor to me in my legal career since, and for those of you who don’t know him his life, his success [and] his integrity create a great example for all Auburn students and alumni, minority and majority alike.” Though new signage was recently installed heralding the facility as the Harold D. Melton Student Center, the University will hold a formal ceremony dedicating the building to Melton on Nov. 20 at 2 p.m., according to Waggoner. Melton will meet with Auburn officials to be honored outside the facility at that time along with his family. The board task force has also reevaluated historical markers on campus and on other University properties around the state, Waggoner said. Its first target was a marker outside Ralph Brown Draughon recognizing integration in the 1960s. “The board resolved to improve the University’s historical marker on campus celebrating racial integration as well as Harold Franklin, Auburn’s first Afri-

can American student, celebrating [his] contribution to integration,” he said. Waggoner said the task force then conducted an extensive statewide search for Civil War markers and monuments across all of Alabama’s 67 counties to reconsider their interpretation of the event from a current perspective. “For over 30,000 acres, [the task force was] looking to try to determine whether there were any Civil War markers,” he said. “We found a single marker in Baldwin County that was part of a local Civil War trail there, and in fact, that one marker depicted a Union army encampment.” Among the main purposes behind the task force’s formation, however, was to reassess names of buildings, roads and structures on campus dedicated to past state and University officials who made controversial racial comments or had a history associated with racial controversy. In June, petitions arose scrutinizing facilities such as Wallace Hall and Bibb Graves Amphitheatre for these reasons. Waggoner said the task force has sought to “carefully study the history” of such individuals and structures in its reassessment through several different methods. “First, we sent everyone a copy of ‘[The] Village on the Plain’ which is a history of Auburn written by Auburn’s long-term former head of the Auburn University Libraries Special Collections and Archives Department, Dwayne Cox,” he said. “It’s just a great way of understanding the context and the history of building names. The task force has

been reading and discussing that.” The task force additionally requested the assistance of Greg Schmidt, associate professor of the University’s Special Collections and Archives, to research names present on Auburn structures that have raised concerns. Waggoner said Schmidt put together a completed report the task force is reading over. Now, the task force is deciding what uniform criteria it will use when determining whether to rename a structure on campus, Waggoner said. “The task force believes that in performing its work, it should consider creating a policy that can be utilized when they look at buildings now and future buildings to try to make sure they do this deliberatively and pursue it to a process rather than randomly looking at things,” he said. Discussion is still underway among task force members at this point on renaming existing structures on campus because of their namesakes, Waggoner said, which may take some time. A 2017 Alabama state law, the Memorial Preservation Act, has made the process of renaming structures tied to individuals more difficult as offenders may be fined $25,000 for changing the name of a building in this case. However, the act refers mainly to K-12 public schools and two-year colleges, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. Susan Youngblood, associate professor and associate department chair in the Department of English, questioned the Board of Trustees’ approach to the act. “How does the Board of Trustees plan

to address the possibility that a building, road or structure that needs to be renamed won’t have the renaming approved at the state level?” she asked. “Is the board willing to commit to change anyway despite the fine or would the state level decision be ... the end of the discussion?” Waggoner, although a lawyer himself, was not able to provide a direct answer as a non-board member and the only link to the Board of Trustees present, but he said some institutions have eaten the cost of the fine while others have contested the wording of the state law in connection to their campus. “I think that’s one thing the board would have to look at is to say, ‘Is the statute applicable to Auburn University or not, and if so, is the building that it would consider something that should be [left alone] in light of it?’” he said. “My short answer to your question is they have not addressed that because they haven’t gotten the policy together and analyzed the buildings, but it’s a pretty complex question on the legal side.” Concluding his report, Waggoner said the board task force seeks to act on its goals in a reasonable amount of time while ensuring it does not overlook important details. “Like everything else in Auburn, there’s going to be some people who say the process is going too fast and others who think it’s going too slow, but in the end the task force is approaching the matter with the same acuity and deliberate that [faculty] demand from [their] own students,” Waggoner said.


Research and Innovation Center opens to the public By VIRGINIA SPEIRS Writer

The Auburn University Research and Innovation Center is the newest addition to the Auburn Research Park. Since it opened on Sept. 15, the new center has been a great tool for students and faculty to come together to work, learn and grow, said Bill Dean, executive director of the Auburn University Research and Technology Foundation. “The park’s Research and Innovation Center brings first-class minds to a first-

class facility,” Dean said. “Designed to promote creative collisions between and among talented faculty, students and knowledge-based businesses, the Research and Innovation Center is a true convergence zone. These are spaces that bring people together to ignite innovation.” The new center broke ground in spring 2019 and was under construction for 17 months. It is one of seven buildings that make up the research park, including East Alabama Medical Center’s Health Sciences Center, which is currently under con-

struction. “We’re excited about it,” Dean said. “Every time we open up a new building in the park it’s exciting, and it brings more people to the park. Being a student at Auburn University and having this resource in your backyard, I have to say I am very envious.” The new center is a five-story, 105,877-square foot building featuring office and accelerator space, an event center and an Amsterdam Cafe. Occupants include Auburn University’s Office of the

Vice President for Research and Economic Development, Fullstream LLC and 540 at the Park, a state of the art event space with a ballroom and boardroom, Dean said. To Dean, the most important thing about a research park is not the structure of the buildings, but the environment of the park as a whole. “We have a great outdoor patio area,” Dean said. “We’re also implementing a new outside seating space … we want to have that as a model for other parks around the country. It’s all built around devel-

oping an environment.” The research park is built to have a particular environment that allows students, faculty and all visitors of the park to feel comfortable both indoors and outdoors. “As much as the infrastructure is important — ­ and it’s a beautiful infrastructure — building the correct environment that is specific to Auburn University’s research is something we want to optimize,” Dean said. What makes a research park successful is people, Dean said. The research park is designed to be an inclu-

sive environment where anyone can come and “live, work, learn and discover,” Dean said. “It took a team to [build this park], and I’m excited about the team that I have working with me to help build the appropriate environment and infrastructure for this,” Dean said. “I’m excited about the opportunities that we are building and shaping ... to build a very special place. The bottom line is that we are in the people business, and we support that and want to build the right place for that.”


The 105,877-square foot Research and Innovation Center is the newest addition to Auburn Research Park.

The Auburn Plainsman




Green-thumbed students grow organic gardens By NICOLE LEE Writer

With organic produce in high demand, those who possess green thumbs gravitate towards developing their techniques in the garden. Students make use of these such skill sets in Auburn’s very own Organic Garden Club. The AOGC aims to use completely natural methods of gardening in order to grow produce retains maximum healthiness and lacks any harmful chemicals typical of non-organically grown foods. Phillip Reynolds, president of the club and graduate student in adult education, graduated from Auburn in the spring with a major in horticulture and minor in sustainability. As one of the founding members of the AOGC, Reynolds describes the club as a place for students to discover and eventually reestablish a more sustainable approach to gardening that has been somewhat lost in this modern age. “I was part of the group that started the club, and we wanted to have a club on campus that would bring together people who wanted to connect with nature and produce some food at the same time,” Reynolds said. Reynold’s interest in organic gardening dates back to when he was a young boy helping his grandfather tend to the family garden. “My grandfather had a garden when I was little,” he said. “He mostly raised peas and tomatoes, and it was always great smelling all the fresh produce coming into the house.” Later in life, Reynolds traveled to Berkeley, California, where he encountered many community gardens throughout the area. “It was amazing to be able to walk down the road and get fresh food,” Reynolds said. “I wanted to bring that ability to others back here. We have a lot of agriculture in Alabama, but there are still plenty of food deserts around, too.” Food deserts refer to areas that lack access to fresh produce at affordable prices.


The AOGC partnered with Fungi Farm this semester to grow mushrooms.

Although his own personal life and studies have been centered around organic food production, Reynolds declares the club to be open to a diverse group of majors and welcomes all students interested in a hands-on education about natural growing methods for edible and medicinal plants to join. “As a club, we will search out and bring together different natural growing methods to maximize the efficiency of farming techniques,” he said. Despite the numerous positives that emerge from organic gardening, Reynolds said it is a common belief that the practice is too difficult or that the processes used are not attainable. “Organic gardening tends to be misunderstood. There are thoughts that it does not work or that it isn’t a viable method for going about production,” Reynolds said. These misunderstandings spring from the ambiguous label of what organic gardening truly is. This can be confusing or intimidating to those unfamiliar with the garden. Even Reynolds, a well acclimated and informed gardener, struggles to give it a specific definition. “There hasn’t been a universal meaning for it, especially in the grocery store, and I believe that that has caused a rift in people’s minds about organic practices,” he said. “We at the club are fo-

cused on soil health and supporting the biodiversity of pollinators and beneficial insects instead of only focusing on chemical applications.” Reynolds said there are ways of pest control through organic gardening, however, but they require the teamwork of several people. In order to accomplish their goals, the AOGC plants several gardens in the spring and fall. They also have a cover crop planting – crops planted to protect the soil during harsh weather, and not meant to be harvested – over the fall and winter. “This semester we are starting up a partnership with the Fungi Farm to grow some mushrooms along with our produce,” Reynolds said. “We haven’t done much traveling yet. We visited the Davis Arboretum for a lesson on lumberjacking from Patrick Thompson, and we also visited the Fungi Farm to see what a mushroom spawn laboratory looks like. We have planned to visit some local farms.” The club members share memorable experiences all while furthering their understandings of organic food development. “Every time that we have a harvest in the garden is a great time,” Reynolds said. “Seeing the smiles on members’ faces when they see the food that they grew out of the ground is priceless. We have

also had a number of pumpkin smashes from year to year to boost our compost pile and reduce the pumpkins going into the waste stream.” These rewarding and fun moments are accompanied by their own set of challenges, however, the AOGC tackles these issues with creative methods that often incite some laughs, said Reynolds. “We had deer and rabbit visitors for a while that we had to creatively deter away from our plots,” Reynolds said. “Turns out they are not a fan of the way we smell or hot sauce. So we spread some soap around the area and applied some capsaicin — an active component of chili peppers — to the plants. I like to imagine that [we] shocked some poor woodland critter away from our lettuce.” Reynolds’ horticulture classes often dealt with theoretical studies of gardening, and the AOGC allowed him to apply his studies on a more tangible basis. “The club has taught me many things in the realm of gardening,” he said. “It was great having a place to practice all that lessons from class and share it with others. There is nothing like just going out and getting my hands dirty. There are all kinds of lessons in the dirt.” Reynolds hopes the club will continue to grow and cultivate a community that values organic productions. “Our goals are to expand our products as much as we can,” he said. “We want to have so much food that we have to give [it] away. We also want to continue stirring a passion for growing plants inside of curious minds.” Reynolds invites anyone affiliated with Auburn University interested in getting their hands dirty, improving their green thumbs, or just learning the basics of gardening to visit the Auburn Organic Garden Club’s plot at the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center where they meet every Monday at 5 p.m. “The garden isn’t going anywhere and we love to have people stop by and see our progress,” Reynolds said. “It is never too late to start working with nature.”


Office of Sustainability scales down events for safety By CAROLINE CRAIG Writer

The Office of Sustainability serves as Auburn University’s resource for building a more environmentally friendly and sustainable campus. The office hosts a multitude of events to provide resources and raise awareness of their goals. When the University closed in April because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the office canceled the events they had planned. For this semester, they have adjusted events to follow social distancing regulations and provide a safer environment. Jennifer Morse, the Office of Sustainability’s outreach and communication manager, works with organizations to plan outreach events and develop more sustainable options across campus. The office has already held two events for the fall semester. The first was their Welcome Week event, which the office scaled down from a what the event was last year — a large sustainability picnic with 25 supporting organizations — to an informational event, with four organizations focusing on waste reduction and recycling. “So, I mean it was a huge event, and we scaled it down to four tables,” Morse said. Morse said they adapted the event to the regulations at the time by taking temperatures, using AUInvolve for check-in, providing reusable uten-

sils and using proper spacing. The office’s most recent event was the Oscillation Transia Film Festival held in the Donald E. Davis Arboretum on Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. The festival was originally planned to take place in April and underwent major changes for the Wednesday showing. The film festival’s director, Jess Giacobbe, would travel with her solar engineer to power the film showing with solar energy only. The director was unable to attend and instead was introduced at the beginning of the event over Zoom. “For me, the takeaway overall was that sometimes we forget about maintaining the relationships and also our connection — our relationship — with the natural world around us and the people important to us,” Morse said. The viewing took place outside on the green space of the arboretum. People at the viewing were required to wear masks, and seating was spaced 10 feet apart. Giacobbe picked eight short films about the human connection with nature, and all films were shown in an hour. At the end of the event, viewers were encouraged to leave their masks on and maintain their distance from others. Daniel Fischer, 31, an Auburn alumnus, attended the event on Wednesday because his fiancee was showing one of her videos from the Lee County Film Club. Fischer said he felt safe and comfortable while viewing the films. He

also felt the films had a significant impact on himself and others. “It’s really eye-opening to see what people are feeling and thinking in other parts of the world and that there are people that have ideas in common with myself and others,” Fischer said. Morse said the Office of Sustainability is looking forward to conducting more events throughout the fall and spring semesters. It will utilize virtual meetings and hold in-person events with the appropriate regulations in place. “We’d like to do a tree-planting event again because that is outdoors,” Morse said. “We can do spacing and wipe down the tools.” The office will continue to use social distancing regulations in their offices and at events. It will also examine how the University’s pollution and production of greenhouse gases has been affected by the pandemic. “One of our biggest contributors to greenhouse gases is University-funded travel,” Morse said. “So it’ll be interesting to see the effect of COVID on that.” Besides focusing on creating a more sustainable campus, the office has also noticed an increase in stress and anxiety because of the pandemic. It is hoping to partner with Student Counseling and Psychological Services to help increase mental wellness among students in more ways than it did before. “We have a lot of potential here to do a lot of really amazing things,” Morse said.


Photos of the Donald E. Davis Arboretum taken on Oct. 19, 2020, in Auburn, Ala.


College of Osteopathic Medicine hosting Trunk-or-Treat event By MCKENZIE DOOLEY Writer

Various student led organizations are inviting the local Auburn community to attend a free, contactless drive thru Halloween experience for children of all ages. It will take place Friday, Oct. 23 from 5-9 p.m. at 910 S. Donahue Drive, the campus of Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. This is an opportunity for children to dress up in costumes and get candy safely. Children and parents can join VCOM for a night of candy, games, and costumes. Clarisse Fres, an osteo-

pathic medical graduate student at VCOM, is helping host this event, and wants to assure the public that their children will be safe. “We wanted to still be able to host an event where kids can safely celebrate Halloween despite COVID-19 still looming over our entire population,” Fres said. “By installing a few protocols, we believe we have created a way for kids to do this.” VCOM is following COVID-19 guidelines while still allowing children to enjoy this Halloween season. Multiple protocols are being administered to ensure attendee safety during the

event. “The safety protocols we have installed include: making sure all volunteer and attendees wear masks and gloves, only playing contactless games and designating a direction for the flow of traffic throughout the event space,” Fres said. “[We’re] ensuring that attendees do not have to cross paths with any other participants at any time.” These protocols will be strictly enforced throughout the duration of the event. Since the event is a drive thru, the attendants do not even have to leave their cars. Some of the contactless games that

will be played are I Spy, Pictionary and Hangman. “All games can be played from their cars with the windows rolled down, and all candy will be delivered to kids via a 6 ft long candy chute,” Fres said. Throughout the event parents or children will not be in close contact with other families or volunteers to ensure the safety of everyone. The event will also be hosting an optional costume contest for the children. “We will be taking their pictures and have judges that will decide the winner after the event,” Fres said. Parents who wish for their

child to participate in the costume contest are asked for consent for their child to be photographed as well as for an email. The winner of the costume contest will receive a prize. “The winner will be notified via email and will receive and e-gift card,” Fres said. Denisia Thomas, another Osteopathic medical graduate student at VCOM, is also helping co-host the event with Fres, and wants to make sure the word gets out about the event so that all children can come out and enjoy all VCOM has to offer. “We really to get the word out to the public so that all

the children can come and have a safe and good time despite COVID-19,” Thomas said. The two VCOM graduate students said that they are excited to be hosting this event for the public to enjoy. Costumes are not required at this event, but both Thomas and Fres agree that if the children wear costumes, they will have a better experience. “We encourage the children to wear costumes as there will be a costume contest where prizes will be given,” Thomas said. “If you don’t wear a costume you have no way to win the prizes.”

community THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2020




Taking things more seriously

Uber and Lyft drivers balance COVID precautions and making a paycheck By KATIE CARROLL Writer

In the past, neon-tinted Uber and Lyft windows have been commonplace in college towns, but the risk of COVID-19 transmission has kept some drivers off the streets. Online driving services have remained available throughout the pandemic. Some drivers retired for health reasons. Other drivers continue to offer rides and are trying to follow the changing safety regulations set by their companies. Julie Ripoli started driving for Uber in 2017. She said in her three years working in Auburn, she has driven thousands of students. Ripoli decided to quit driving in May after her father died of COVID-19 in April. “When you [know] someone who dies from COVID-19, your perspective really changes,” Ripoli said. “You have to take it more seriously.” Ripoli also said that she thinks Uber and Lyft drivers in college towns are more at risk to catch the coronavirus. She believes she caught the coronavirus in March after driving for Uber during spring break. Ripoli did not get tested because she said the virus was new and she did not know much about it. Blake Knight, junior in aerospace engineering, has been driving for Uber since September 2019. Knight believes drivers in college towns are slightly more likely to get COVID-19 because the majority of passengers are young and are more likely to be asymptomatic. Knight said that throughout the summer months and into August he noticed a decrease of Uber drivers in Auburn. Many of his passengers have reported that in the past, the majority of drivers they had in Auburn were older. “As far as older people, especially if they have already concerning health issues, I could definitely see why they would stop,” Knight said. “I think that’s why a lot of people stopped in the summer.” Sandie Sanders drives for both Uber and Lyft and is based in Birmingham. She offered rides in Tuscaloosa on the first Saturday after students returned to the University of Alabama. Sanders had 23 rides that day. Many of her passengers reported having a difficult time finding Uber and Lyft drivers


Uber and Lyft have continued to operate since March.

in the area. Knight said that in the past three weeks, the number of drivers has increased because there has been an influx in passengers after regulations were lifted on bars. “With the bars opening, it has made it to where a lot more people have started [driving Ubers] again,” Knight said. Drivers who choose to continue working through the pandemic have adapted as regulations change. Ripoli, Sander and Knight all said that Uber began communicating safety regulations with drivers in March. “[Uber] should have communicated with their drivers and riders way sooner than they did,” Ripoli said.

Sanders said that starting in April, drivers were required to take and upload a picture of themselves in a mask before they could log into their Uber app and offer rides. Afterwards, they were directed to questions about the sanitation of their car. Uber also did not allow passengers in the front seat. Sanders said Uber sends drivers free packets of disposable masks to keep in their cars to offer to passengers. Uber has also added a feature where, at the end of a ride, passengers can report their driver for not wearing a mask. Sanders said that Lyft updated safety requirements to their app three weeks after Uber and does not require drivers to take a

picture verifying they are wearing a mask. Lyft sent drivers a kit that included a spray bottle to fill with sanitizer, a fabric mask and disposable masks. “I think Uber has done a better job because they set the precedent before Lyft,” Sanders said. Knight said that over the month of September, regulations were loosened. Uber still requires drivers to wear a mask when signing in, but passengers are able to sit in the front seat if drivers allow it. “[Drivers] have families,” Ripoli said. “We are just like [passengers], and wearing a mask is the best thing to do to protect others and yourself.”

COUNCIL » From 1

confidential information, so the Council could not share all information regarding the case at this time. The agenda item passed in a 6-3 vote, with Parsons, Dixon and Griswold voting in opposition. The Council approved amending a City zoning ordinance, reducing the maximum number of beds in the University Neighborhood West student housing district from 255 beds per acre to 170 and removing academic detached dwelling units from Medium Density Residential Districts and Neighborhood Redevelopment Districts. Smith abstained. Witten moved to divide the vote into the two separate issues instead of considering the two amendments in one vote. Buston explained that the two amendments were dealt with separately by the Planning Commission. The ordinances were divided in a 7-2 vote, with Parsons and Griswold voting in opposition. Anders proposed that the Council postpone voting for the amendments until Nov. 3. “The content we’re deliberating on tonight is a direct result of the student housing task force,” Parsons said. “Here we are, it seems to me, dismantling the work they’ve done. I think we run the risk of looking as though we’re doing theater for our public rather than doing actual work. I would caution this body to bear in mind that we are possibly muddying the waters of a very serious task force that the mayor himself initiated.” Griswold stated that the Planning Commission held multiple work sessions to create the recommendations presented to the Council. He agreed with Parsons, saying the task force should be paid attention to so it would not seem as a “publicity show.” Planning Director Forrest Cot-


The UN-W designation for student housing will be reduced from 255 beds per acre to 170.

ten stated that the postponement of these ordinances would not affect the student housing moratorium, which deals with the discussed zoning types. The current moratorium will end in December. “I would like to have time to look at 170 [beds per acre] and study if this is the right number for our community,” Anders said. “The final decision rests with us. I respect the Planning Commission and I respect the task force.” The Council voted to postpone the vote until the next meeting in a 6-2 vote. Griswold and Parsons voted in opposition. Smith abstained. Dawson wanted to modify the second ordinance, allowing AD-

DUs in MDRD districts but not in NRD districts. ADDUs would require conditional use approval as they do under current legislation. Dawson cited constituent feedback against ADDUs in NRD districts but not in MDRD districts. Parsons heard similar feedback. “Here we are again, it’s a troubling precedent,” Parsons said. “I think it will show to the public that we’re performing theater.” Witten countered Parson’s statement, stating that the Council is following the proper procedure. She stated that making a swift change to the zoning regulations would be a disservice to the community. “We have two zones that are at completely opposite sides of this

community [that] have completely different cultures and neighborhood vibes,” Witten said. “For us to have this conversation now is part of the process and is part of our duty. To call it theater is a disservice to our process and our job.” Smith stated that the MDRD district in his ward is in favor of allowing ADDUs. “I take my actions very seriously,” Smith said. “To suggest otherwise is downright dirty.” Ward 7 Council member Jay Hovey, as a member of the task force in question, feels that ADDUs are an appropriate housing type for students, likening it to a duplex. They were highly favored by students in the task force and Hovey feels they are highly suited

for the MDRD district. Dawson, another member of the task force, agreed that ADDUs were favored for the MDRD district. “The big picture for me is that this Council has been faced with a problem of excess student housing, to the point where Mayor Anders felt it important to dig into the data,” Parsons said. “I don’t have the numbers with me, but I believe the task force’s finding are that we have an excess of student housing, and in response to that information, I think it’s fair to say the City looked at means to slow this product in our housing market. What we have been given is an answer to that problem.” Parsons was bothered by the Council’s potential discounting of the work put into the ordinances thus far. “When I formed the task force, it was my desire to be more informed, have great debate, glean from the students what their desires were and make great decisions for our community moving forward,” Anders said. “What we found out is we’re oversubscribed with student beds … and that there is a need for us to make these considerations. We held at least five focus groups on campus. Without question, one of the largest comments that came out of that is that the students prefer to live in these single cottage types of houses. So, I believe the ADDU is a practical component of student living today and student living in the future.” Anders believes the oversubscription of student housing primarily occurs in large-scale projects on the western side of downtown. The Council amended the ordinance in a 6-3 vote. Griswold, Witten and Parsons voted in opposition. The proposal was amended, allowing ADDUs in MDRD districts but not in NRD districts. The Council approved the amended ordinance in a 6-3 vote. Hovey, Witten and Smith voted in opposition.


The Auburn Plainsman



Chef takes over The Hound to create Asian-Southern fusion By ELISE SAPPINGTON Writer

The Hound Executive Chef Robbie Nicolaisen imagines a restaurant, right in the heart of Auburn, where the menu is a tango between Asian cuisine and Southern soul. He formulated this concept for a “new-school” take on Asian style noodles and is calling it Chubby Belly Noodle Shop. “I’ve always been infatuated with Asian-style cuisines across the board,” Nicolaisen reminisced. “Whether it’s Chinese, Thai, Japanese, so on and so forth. As matter of fact, if I wasn’t doing [Southern fusion], I’d be doing that style.” Nicolaisen has been surrounded by the culinary arts nearly his entire life. Every job he has held, since the age of 14, has been in the restaurant industry. Still, it was not until his early 20s that Nicolaisen realized he was meant to be in culinary arts. Nicolaisen attended Johnson and Wales College of Food Innovation and Technology in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has been the executive chef at The Hound for over three years now and continues to explore the bounds of culinary style through concepts such as the vision of Chubby Belly Noodle Shop. “I guess my style would be taking classics and kind of reinventing them and putting new trends and techniques on them,” Nicolaisen explained. “That’s true even with The Hound’s


Nicolaisen served shrimp and grits ramen and roasted tomato ramen at a recent “kitchen takeover.”

menu, you know. It’s recognizable, but it’s definitely updated versions [of] everything.” Culinary art is a vast and a continually shifting field, Nicolaisen said. Even with his experience, he still sees himself as a learner. “My dad always said to me, the more you learn, the less you know,” Nicolaisen expounded. “I guess the meaning behind that is, once I’ve learned something about a new ingredient or a new technique or trend, it opens up so many more opportunities to be able to work with that. You can never learn enough.”

What once was a vision in the mind of Nicolaisen now has a name and a menu. Chubby Belly Noodle Shop has come to life in the form of pop-ups in the Auburn-Opelika area as well as kitchen takeovers at The Hound. On Oct. 14, The Chubby Belly Noodle Shop “kitchen takeover” transformed the atmosphere and menu of The Hound to reflect Nicolaisen and his passion for Asian cuisine and Southern fusion. “The music for the dining room is like oldschool hip-hop, another thing that I love, so I’m piecing together things,” Nicolaisen ex-

plained. “They kind of represent myself in a way through the menu, through the branding and the concept. When it comes to the food itself, ramen, for instance, we have ‘old school’ and ‘new school.’ On the ‘old school,’ we have some of the classics, Katsu and Shoyu ramen. Then, more on the new side, our ‘new school.’ We have a roasted tomato ramen, and at the last ‘kitchen takeover,’ I did the shrimp and grits ramen.” Nicolaisen uses his passion and creativity in the realm of culinary arts to cultivate signature dishes such as shrimp and grits ramen or roasted tomato ramen. Ingredients within these dishes were once foreign to classic ramen dishes, but are now utilized to create “new-school” ramen, as Nicolaisen calls these dishes. Culinary moves of this sort reflect a personal touch of the chef, acting as Nicolaisen’s signature. “So, part of the reason I like to do these things is not only to serve good food but to kind of educate people as well,” Nicolaisen described. “[It shows] that it doesn’t have to be this one way. It can be, you know, interpreted many different ways. I mean, there are a lot of people doing ramen, but are they doing it the way I do it?” Through signature dishes and restaurant atmosphere, Nicolaisen strives to create an experience for attendees that is unique and unmatched. Every aspect of Nicolaisen’s Chubby Belly Noodle Shop is meant to emulate the rich, cultural experiences found in the concept’s Asian roots and Southern chef.


Nicolaisen creates his own menu, adding new ingredients to traditional dishes,



Nicolaisen has held kitchen takeovers at The Hound multiple times.


Beyond the Wok opens on South College Street By SAM LANKFORD Writer

Beyond the Wok is a new Chinese restaurant located at 339 S. College St. Hardly two weeks old, the restaurant is looking to integrate into the Auburn community. The restaurant’s dishes revolve around chicken, pork, beef, lamb and duck. Meats can be accompanied by a choice of starch: rice or lo mein. For those look-

ing to avoid meats, Beyond the Wok offers tofu and fish entrees. The dishes take inspiration from Sichuan, the south-central Chinese province, where both the restaurant’s manager Joe Wang and its owner are from. Wang says that Auburn was the perfect community to start his restaurant in because of the built-in appreciation for Chinese culture. “We think it’s a really good business location, and

we have some great ideas about authentic Asian food,” Wang said. “The students and professors know better about our culture and our type of food.” The local desire for authentic cuisine and the desire to fill this niche is what brought Beyond the Wok to Auburn, Wang says. “We’re very excited to serve the Auburn community, and we’re trying to do our best with good service and authentic food.”

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The Auburn volleyball team during practice prior to the 2020 season.

How Auburn volleyball navigated COVID By ASHLEY BIRDSONG Writer

After a long-awaited debut, Auburn volleyball is set to begin its season this week after being postponed due to COVID-19. New head coach Brent Crouch is ready to put the offseason and preseason practices to good use when the Tigers host Florida this Wednesday and Thursday. “You can only make so much progress in every aspect of your program when you don’t play,” said Crouch. “You need the experience of being with your team competing to really see what you have and how they perform.” Crouch was hired as the Tigers’ head coach in

late January and got about six weeks of work in with the team before COVID-19 shut down Auburn. Crouch was now presented with a new set of challenges in developing relationships with the players in his first year on the Plains. “We got about six weeks in, and I am grateful for that small amount of time, but we did have a lot of Zoom meetings after we all had to go home, and there’s only so much you can do,” said Crouch. “It is completely different when you’re with somebody in the same room, and unfortunately it’s harder to develop relationships when you can’t see each other’s face, so even in person when you’re masked, there is so much facial expression that’s lost.”

During the offseason, a strength and conditioning program was put in place for the players to participate instead of in-person practice. The process of returning to regular practice took about six weeks after being back on campus in the gym. “It was an extremely slow progression to get back into group practices and I think the COVID protocols have devastated sports in different ways depending on how the sports are played,” explained Crouch. The team has been getting tested three times a week and has followed all the proper guidelines to both play this season and stay safe amid the global pandemic. Coach Crouch is proud of how his

team and their efforts to stay safe. “They had the option to opt out and still retain their eligibility, and they’ve chosen not to, and that is a really high level of commitment,” Crouch said. Auburn volleyball is starting its season later than normal and with a different schedule. Still, with a season opener this week, Crouch is grateful for the sense of normalcy that it will provide. “The fact that we get to play is such a blessing, so I am glad that there are some things in place where we can do that safely,” said Crouch. “Seeing some other human beings in a sports venue, it won’t be normal, but at least it will get us to some sense of normalcy, and I am excited about that.”


Sarah Houchin named SEC Defensive Player of the Week By CHRISTIAN CLEMENTE Assistant Section Editor

After her performance in Auburn’s wins over Georgia and Ole Miss, defender Sarah Houchin was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Monday. This is the second time an Auburn player has received an award this season, with goalie Maddie Prohaska being named SEC Freshman of the Week after Auburn’s season opener against Mississippi State. This was the senior captain’s

first time receiving a weekly award. “She really is the leader of our team as a whole and certainly our defense,” head coach Karen Hoppa said about Houchin. “She is always steady for us. I felt, especially in the Georgia game, she elevated her defensive play. Her individual defending was incredible. She was the calm in the storm and led our team to those two victories.” During Auburn’s two victories, Houchin played in all but two minutes of the contests. In Auburn’s double-overtime

victory over Ole Miss, Houchin and the Auburn defenders held the Rebels to a season-low six shots. She followed that up by helping the Tigers play man down for the final 35 minutes against Georgia and holding them to a shutout, for the second straight game. Houchin and the Tigers haven’t allowed a goal in the run of play all season. Auburn (2-0-1) turns its attention to Saturday, Oct. 24, when they host Kentucky (0-3-2) at 6 p.m. CST at the Auburn Soccer Complex.


Auburn defender Sarah Houchin in the season opener against Mississippi State.



Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corall throws the ball in Florida’s season opener against Florida.

BEHIND ENEMY BYLINES By JAMES MINZESHEIMER Asst. Sports Editor | The Daily Mississippian

Q: How do you expect the Ole Miss to do against Auburn’s offense? A: I would expect to see something different. Weeks 1-3 the offense looked like it was towards the SEC and then week 4 Matt threw 6 ints. I would say it depends on what we see from Matt and what personnel decisions Kiffin and the oc Lebby make. I think you will see

more running, and possible use of a two qb set with Plumlee and Corrall in the game at the same time. Q: How do you expect the Ole Miss defense to do against Auburn’s offense? A: Coming out of last week, I hope that they can continue with the momentum they gained. Realistically, Ole Miss is going to have to put up points and see how the D plays. I expect them to give up big plays and allow lots of yards like we saw weeks 1-3. Q: Lane Kiffin recently said that Ole Miss has been

dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, what do y’all know about that situation and how does it impact this weekend? A: Not sure some players were inactive last week, I have heard rumors of the game being postponed, but nothing officially from either program or the SEC. Q: Who are some players to look out for on both sides of the ball for Ole Miss? A: Defense I would say Jaquez Jones, MoMo Sagano, and Ryder Anderson. Jaquez,

because he is probably the best player in the Ole Miss secondary so expect him all over the field come saturday. MoMo because of the fake punt play which he took for 47 yards which is the longest rush of the year for Ole Miss, so I would keep an eye out for him on special teams. Ryder Anderson is a force. His ability to get a sack or a tackle for loss can really provide the spark the defense needs. Offensively I would say, Snoop Conner, Johnthan Mingo, and John Rhys Plumlee. Snoop Conner has been

having quietly a very good year on not a ton of touches. He has already recorded four touchdowns this season, and I would expect to see him more in short yardage situations. Mingo has been a force this season, not just in his numbers but in his physicality, after almost every catch he rights for yards, and he has caught 3 touchdowns this year. And John Rhys because if he gets on the field the fans will become very excited, but also he has not had the chance to take over the offense this year, and if Matt has anoth-

er rough week like last, this is something we could see. Q: How do you expect Matt Corral to respond after a tough performance against Arkansas last weekend? A: Unsure, he could go back to Matt from week 1-3, but most likely what Arkansas did can be replicated by a team like Auburn, so if this is the case, it seems the smart move would be to pull him in the 1st quarter or half. Q: Score prediction? A: I’m going 35-28 Ole


The Auburn Plainsman




Auburn relying on young point guards By HENRY ZIMMER Writer

This year’s Auburn basketball team will look different than last. The Tigers lost six players at the end of the season, including starting point guard J’Von McCormick. One solution at the point could be a guy who wasn’t originally recruited to play it at all, Justin Powell. The 6-foot-6 guard from Kentucky was rated as the third-best player in the state, according to 247Sports player composite rankings. Powell averaged 24.7 points per game during his senior year before suffering a groin injury. Head coach Bruce Pearl thinks that Powell could have potentially competed to be Mr. Basketball in Kentucky before his injury. According to Pearl, Powell is now com-

pletely “good to go” and is developing well heading into the season. “He’s got more ball-handling, decision-making, play-making, reads-out-ofball-screen ability than I thought he did,” Pearl said. “He’s obviously a terrific shooter. He’s got a really high basketball IQ.” Powell played as a combo-guard in high school, playing mostly shooting guard, but has experience at the point position. “We are allowing him to compete with Sharife Cooper and Tyrell Jones and maybe even another player or two,” Pearl said. However, most Auburn fans are clamoring to see the aforementioned Cooper at point guard. At the time of signing, Cooper was Auburn’s highest-rated basketball commitment ever, an achievement that power forward Jabari Smith now holds after committing to the

Tigers on Oct. 9. In his senior season, Cooper was named a McDonald’s All-American and is just one of three Auburn players in program history to achieve that honor. Cooper, listed at 6-foot-1, is a small but extremely agile guard. He led McEachern High School to two straight Final Four’s and left as the school’s all-time leading scorer. Cooper has put on about 20 pounds since arriving at Auburn. His size, weight and play style immediately draw parallels to one of Auburn’s greats in Jared Harper. “He is a self-made player; he is a grinder; he is a gym rat,” Pearl said. “Very much like Jared Harper did, he is working hard to grow that body, and he looks different than he did in high school, even right now. So now he is about 6-1, 180 lbs. He is a guy that has worked really hard in the gym, in the weight

room, working on his game.” Harper was Auburn’s starting point guard during the school’s run to the Final Four and was listed at 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds during his final season at Auburn. While fans are excited to see what Cooper can do, he’s not at Harper’s level, yet. “He is ahead of Jared as a freshman, but he is not Jared Harper, yet,” Pearl said. “One of the things he does well is he is a better interior passer than Jared, and he can score at the rim, making tough two’s better than Jared.” Whether it be Cooper, Powell or incumbent Tyrell Jones at point guard, a young Tiger will be leading the charge. 10 underclassmen make up the roster, with six rotational spots up for grabs. There is no doubt that Cooper and Powell will have to contribute early and hard in their budding collegiate careers.


Auburn’s freshmen point guards Sharife Cooper and Justin Powell battling it out in Auburn’s practice.


Pearl turns to veterans to fill leadership roles By HARRISON TARR Reporter


Tigers sophomore Allen Flanigan.

As tipoff draws closer for Bruce Pearl and the Tigers, questions surrounding the roster’s young nature arise. The seventh-year head coach is looking toward players with limited experience to fill leadership roles in a year in which the Tigers have no seniors on their active roster. Sophomores Jaylin Williams, Devan Cambridge and Allen Flanigan are being looked at as potential leaders this season. “The leadership is a challenge because the returning players, let’s say the most experienced returning players are Jaylin Williams, Devan Cambridge, Allen Flanigan. Those guys did not get a ton of reps last year,” Pearl said. “They’ve all got strong personalities. And they all have the ability to lead. But they don’t have a lot of experience. And then Tyrell Jones and Stretch [Akingbola] also have leadership ability.” Despite mentioning how impressed he was with

his entire squad, Pearl specifically mentioned the improvement of sophomore guard Devin Cambridge. “Devan has been—Devan’s done well. Obviously, he’s a very hot shooter, had some big games for us— LSU at home, South Carolina at home, Tennessee,” Pearl said. “His shot-making ability with his length is a factor. He’s really good in transition, both offensively and defensively, because he can play above the rim.” The 6-foot-6 Nashville, Tennessee, native averaged 4.2 points per game across 31 appearances, shooting 34% from beyond the arc.The Tigers will also look for an improved role from their oldest player, junior Jamal Johnson. Pearl emphasized the progress made in Johnson’s off-season work. “Jamal’s probably improved as much as anybody from last year to this year. He’s worked really hard. His athleticism, his speed, his quickness, his ability to stay in front of you,” Pearl said. “I think he worked a lot with his dad on his defensive slides and some of his mobility.”


New year, new team for Bruce Pearl and the Tigers By JAKE WEESE Section Editor

It may not seem like long ago that Auburn basketball was headed to the Final Four, but two seasons later, only three members of that roster remain with the Tigers. Even looking at the Auburn basketball roster from a season ago, Auburn will have to replace its entire starting five and its sixth man, Anfernee McLemore. Now entering the 2020-21 season, a younger team will step onto the court for Bruce Pearl this year. “We have 12 guys on scholarship, 10 of them are underclassmen, freshmen and sophomores,” Pearl said. “This is the youngest team I’ve had since I’ve been a Division I basketball coach.” The roster this season consists of five freshmen, eight sophomores and three juniors. Pearl’s team might be young entering this sea-

son, but the coach has been impressed with the effort that he has seen in practice. “The kids have been training really hard,” Pearl said. “I really like my team. I really like the effort. I like the competition. I like the work ethic. We have got a lot to learn. We have very little experience.” Pearl is not expecting the Tigers to enter the season with a lot of preseason hype. Over the past two seasons, Auburn has been predicted to finish third and fourth, respectively, in the SEC preseason media poll. “I have an idea that we are going to be picked to the middle or lower half of the league because we are young and very inexperienced and not tested,” Pearl said. While the Tigers are not entirely sure when the season will begin and what it will look like, Pearl knows his young team will need to learn quickly to keep up with the rest of the SEC.

“We’ve got just a ton to learn, a ton of catching up to do and we are going to have to get better throughout the season if we are going to be a competitive team this year, if we are going to be an NCAA tournament team this year.” Now, Auburn will continue to practice and get ready for the season. Pearl believes the season opener might occur on Nov. 25, but the Tigers will continue to be flexible. Pearl will turn his attention to finding out what the Tigers are made of and who will make up his rotation. “As we start practices right now, I’ve had enough practices where in a normal year, even last year, I had a much better idea of who my starting five would be than I do this year, by virtue of effect that I had five or six guys that were head and shoulders above the rest,” Pearl said. “The good news is that we have got a lot of parity. We have good competition.”


Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl during Auburn’s practice.


The Auburn Plainsman




Auburn running back Tank Bigsby scores his first career touchdown against South Carolina.

Running back room nearing full strength By CHRISTIAN CLEMENTE Assistant Section Editor

Heading into a matchup in hostile territory against Ole Miss, Auburn’s running game, led by Tank Bigsby, will remain a focus. The group as a whole, though, might be in the best position it has been all season. While Tank Bigbsy continues to gash opposing defenses, the back behind him are continuing to progress from injuries. D.J. Williams, who battled a shoulder injury in fall camp and then a toe injury, is the closest to 100% he’s been since last season, according to Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn. “So D.J.’s a guy that had a shoulder in fall camp. Then he had a toe right after that that’s kind of kept him from being 100%, really. And I think he was closer Saturday,” Malzahn said.

“He had a good week of practice. Like I’ve said before, he’s a veteran guy that has been in the heat of the battle in some big games.” The guy who began the year as a starter, Shaun Shivers, is also working his way back from an ankle injury that’s sidelined him over the last three games. Shivers was inactive against Georgia and Arkansas, but was in uniform and available to play against South Carolina. As one of the team captains, Malzahn knows getting him back will be big for the team. “Shaun Shivers is one of our team leaders,” Malzahn said. “You talk about a guy that had a phenomenal fall camp and really had a really good first half against Kentucky and then got hurt. That’ll definitely help when he gets back. He’s in a great spot.”


And behind them is Mark-Antony Richards, who received his fair share of fall camp hype before also dealing with an injury of his own. Richards redshirted in 2019 after undergoing a leg surgery in fall camp but was expected to be ready to play this season. He has yet to appear in a game on offense this season. “And then I want to say Mark-Anthony Richards, I think he had probably his best week of practice that he’s had since he’s been here,” Malzahn said. “He battled some injuries early, too. I think we’re starting to get healthier in the running back room.” Leading them all, though, is Bigsby, who continues to be a one-man wrecking crew at running back. Against South Carolina Bigsby carried for

111 yards, marking his second-straight game with over 100 yards on the ground. Pro Football Focus graded him as the second-highest graded rushers in all of college football with a 91.2, just behind Virginia Tech’s Khalil Herbert, who received a 92.2. Bigsby was PFF’s highest-graded freshman running back. Malzahn has been impressed with his back thus far. “I mean, he looks like an Auburn running back to me. He’s running with great passion, and that’s a good thing,” Malzahn said. “That kind of fits to being able to run the football effectively. He’s broken tackles.” Bigsby and the rest of the Auburn backs will take on Ole Miss on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. CST in Oxford, Mississippi. The game will be broadcasted on SEC Network.


Malzahn, Tigers prepare for new-look Ole Miss Rebels By HARRISON TARR Reporter

Following a 30-22 loss at the hands of the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, Gus Malzahn and the rest of the Auburn Tigers find themselves 2-2 and faced with the challenge of an Ole Miss team who is seemingly rejuvenated by first-season head coach Lane Kiffin. On Tuesday, Malzahn acknowledged the challenge that awaits for his squad this weekend in Oxford. “When you look at them, they’re a better team than their record,” Malzahn said. “They could’ve won a couple of those games and had opportunities.“ The eighth-year head coach was likely alluding to the Rebel’s contested losses against both Arkansas (33-21) and Alabama (63-48). Despite the explosive nature of the Ole Miss offense — which averages 36.5 points and 540.3 yards per contest — what

sticks out the most to Malzahn is the Rebels’ balance with possession of the football. “Obviously, what really stands out to me is that they’re very balanced,” Malzahn said. Kiffin’s offense is averaging 204.8 yards on the ground and 335.5 through the air per game, making them the seventh-best offensive unit in college football. Although the primary focus for the week is preparing to defend for the potent offense of Ole Miss, Malzahn mentioned that there were several takeaways from last Saturday’s loss to the Gamecocks. Specifically, his desire to build upon a promising performance from his offensive line. “Our offensive line really took that next step with running the football,” Malzahn said. “We just need to keep building upon those things.” The premise of building upon positives and improving in areas of weakness has long been a philosophy of Mal-

zahn’s; Saturday’s contest appears to be no exception. “Our focus is to get better, find a way to get a victory and come back and get momentum,” Malzahn said. “That’s what’s on our mind.” Progression will likely be key as the season continues for the Tigers; however, this weekend’s game seems to mean more to their head coach than just an opportunity to get better. After what Malzahn admitted to be a disappointing loss, the emphasis appears to be on finding a way to regain momentum. “Obviously when you lose a game, you have to bounce back,” Malzahn said. “So yeah, it’s a very important game.” Auburn enters Saturday’s showdown as a 3.5-point favorite with the opportunity to win its fifth-straight contest against the Rebels. Toe will meet leather inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at 11 a.m. CST. The game will air on SEC Network.


Auburn quarterback Bo Nix directs blockers against South Carolina.

‘He’s going to bounce back,’ Nix ready to roll By JAKE WEESE Section Editor


Ole Miss tight end Kenny Yeboah catches the ball against Florida.

With 2:15 left in the game and the Tigers down eight, Auburn began to mount one last final drive against South Carolina. The 11-play 71-yard drive may have ultimately ended in heartbreak for Auburn with the Tigers running out of time and downs. Even if the comeback attempt fell short, the effort by Auburn’s offense and its sophomore quarterback stood out to Auburn center Nick Brahms. “I have no doubt Bo is going to fight to the end,” Brahms said. “I can always count him. That’s really what that showed me. He wants to win; he hates losing more than anybody on the team, I’ll tell you that right now. He’s going to work his butt off, man, ev-

ery single game.” On Auburn’s final drive, Bo Nix accounted for all 71-yards. He rushed for 45 yards and passed for the remaining 26. Nix may have flashed his skills on the final drive, but the comeback still falling short was just another example of his up-and-down performance against South Carolina. The sophomore quarterback went 24-of-47 with 272 passing yards and a touchdown. Nix also threw three interceptions against the Gamecocks. After the game, Brahms and the rest of the Tigers made sure to encourage and support their teammate and captain. “I rode the bus home with Bo right next to him, right next to his seat,” Brahms said. “I could just tell, that guy’s just a competitor,

man. He talked to us after the game and he felt really down about himself, and it was our job to kinda pick him up as his teammates.” Now shaking this week’s performance off, Nix and Tigers will head to Oxford, Mississippi, to take on the Ole Miss Rebels. Nix has had his fair share of struggles on the road, with the Tigers losing their last four road/neutral site games dating back to Nov. 26, 2019, against LSU. In those games, Nix has tossed a combined three touchdowns and five interceptions. Even with those past struggles, Brahms knows that Nix will bounce back. “He’s going to bounce back,” Brahms said. “He’s so positive. I don’t think he lets the noise get to him, honestly, so I see him bouncing back.”


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Karen Hoppa Auburn Soccer Head Coach

Jake Weese Sports Editor (10-14)

Christian Clemente Asst. Sports Editor (10-14)

Ashley Birdsong Sports Writer (10-14)

Harrison Tarr Sports Reporter (9-15)

Collins Keith Asst. Campus Editor

Carl No. 1 Ole Miss Fan (15-9)






lifestyle THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2020





Whatley’s bakery will be partly named after one of her favorite sweets.


Tart and Tartan will serve cakes, cupcakes, tarts and pies.

Auburn alumna finds sweet spot in Opelika By KATE MCINDOO Writer

A decade ago, Mary Kathryn Whatley, owner of Tart and Tartan, never dreamed she would be opening her own bakery. She always experimented with new recipes but never considered making baking her fulltime job, she said. After graduating from Auburn University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting, she moved to Atlanta. Recently, she decided it was time to come back home to Opelika, Alabama. Whatley kept the same job but was searching for something else. She took tests to see what she was good at and “scored really high in working with my hands.” This helped narrow down her options and is how she chose to pursue baking.

Once Whatley had made a decision, she began researching and seeking help in the industry. “I was calling people in the baking fields to get advice,” Whatley said. A baker from Montgomery gave her hope with his passion for the industry, she said. “The restaurant and baking industry can be a small profit for a lot of hard work,” Whatley said. “To hear someone who had been in the industry for 30 years so excited about baking was what made me realize I can do it.” Reaching out to other bakers gave her inspiration to take what she learned and make it into her own. “Even though the decision is ultimately my own, I would be foolish to not seek out others for advice,” she said. At Tart and Tartan, she said she will have

cakes, cookies, tarts and pies. Whatley will have some standard items, like her mother’s pound cake, but will bake different goods to see what customers like. “You can get a whole one or a slice and eat it there or take it to go,” Whatley said. The name of Whatley’s bakery has sentimental value to her. “My dad wore these tartan pants every Sunday in December and to every Christmas event,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know what tartan is, but it’s just plaid.” She loved the word tartan, but plaid was not in her original design. “Adding tart to it added the bakery aspect, so now I am selling tarts,” she said. Although Whatley said she is excited about baking, she is also excited about interacting with customers. “I am looking forward to having people

come in and getting to know regulars,” she said. Whatley also can’t wait to have a kitchen with enough room to bake. She said she was surprised by the amount of the planning process for her business has nothing to do with baking. “I have loved planning for the business,” she said. “It’s not just baking. It’s designing, pricing and lots of other things too.” She said her accounting knowledge has proven its worth throughout the process. Tart and Tartan is expected to open during the month of December. The bakery will be open Tuesday through Saturday and will be located in Opelika at 117 S. 8th St., Suite 203. Whatley said her advice for anyone trying something new is, “Know when to keep pushing past obstacles and when to seek an opportunity.”


The soon-to-be-opened Tart and Tartan on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020 in Opelika, Ala.


The Auburn Plainsman



Symphony director conducted his life from Venezuela By CAROLINE RICE Writer

Carlos Izcaray was born under the rainforest canopy of Venezuela’s capital. Here, he began his journey with classical music. Growing up with a father who was a wellknown conductor and music educator and a mother who worked in music administration, Izcaray was nourished with musicality from the beginning. “I grew up running around behind theatres, which made everything seem more accessible,” Izcaray said. At 3 years old, Izcaray was enrolled in Venezuela’s public system of youth orchestras where his small fingers first became familiar with his violin strings. As his love for music grew, so did the size of his instrument. Izcaray took up the cello, on which he played when his love for music became his own. It was the summer of 1993 when Izcaray knew music was his passion, and he describes it as his moment of “infection– the good kind of infection.”. While Izcaray’s friend was visiting him at his parents’ house, they had meaningful conversation, and there he found inspiration. “It was in a split-second– I knew I was going to be a musician,” Izcaray said. Before starting high school, Izcaray packed up his growing music interest and moved it to the U.S., where his parents came to peruse higher education degrees in music. Concentrating on cello, Izcaray’s musicianship flourished. As a chamber musician and a soloist, he earned the title of principle player at Larkin Arts Academy in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

But his conquest into the field of music was only beginning. Izcaray quickly picked up interest in composition and conducting. At age 17, he was enrolled in conducting lessons. Soon after, he began his bachelor’s degree at the New World School of Fine Arts in Miami, Florida, where his father had been hired to teach conducting classes. After earning his first degree, Izcaray put conducting aside and refocused his time and effort into his cello. When his student visa ended, he returned to Venezuela and became principal cellist at Venezuela’s National Orchestra. Once again, his passion for conducting continued to crescendo. “I had to decide if I was going to be a fulltime cellist or a conductor,” Izcaray said. As he began conducting symphonies and operas around the globe, it was clear that conducting was where his heart lay. Izcaray learned that being a music director is not just about being a conductor, but also about being the face of the ensemble to the community and connecting with all kinds of people. “You feel like an actor who has been over all of these incredible lead roles,” Izcaray said. “They are all amazing.” One of the most important lessons Izcaray said he has learned is music is not just about sounds, but about the people and the community as well. His traveling led him to Alabama, where Izcaray began his career as music director of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. “Birmingham is a family-friendly environment, but the arts scene is what did it for us,”

Izcaray said. He now splits his time between Birmingham and Los Angeles, where he is also the music director of the American Youth Symphony. “I am a full-time music director, but I also consider myself an educator and a music creator,” Izcaray said. When Izcaray first became the conductor of ASO, his schedule quickly filled up with rehearsals and concerts, but he got to drive his kids to school, which made his hard work well worth it. Izcaray recognizes his passion for music and perseverance through difficult times has brought him to success in the world of music. “I like the art form, but I also like the process,” Izcaray said. “It’s like climbing a mountain. Persistence is part of it, and staying focused is important.” Meanwhile, he said his wife would describe him as being stubborn about his passion for music. “My family members are the first ones to hear my crazy theories,” Izcaray said. “The community gets to hear me through a lot of filters.” Kyuna Kim was the concertmaster of the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra from 2018–2019 and looked up to “Maestro Izcaray” despite not playing directly under his leadership. “Maestro Izcaray didn’t get paid to be with us, but he would still show up to our rehearsals and encourage us,” Kim said. What is etched into her mind is the way he reacted to the young orchestra’s mistakes. He would respond with kind and encouraging words and never made one negative com-

ment towards the orchestra. “He is so open and easy to approach,” Kim said. “He makes you want to have a conversation with him and learn more about him.” Tara Aesquivel, executive director for the American Youth Symphony, describes Izcaray’s passion toward music and the younger generations as “spiritual.” “To him, it’s not just a job,” Aesquivel said. “It’s something that he truly feels committed to with every fiber of his being.” Izcaray said he commits himself to this art form because it allows artists to connect with others in a language that is deeper than words. This principle brings hope to Izcaray, and he hopes it does the same for others. Performing top works written by composers like Beethoven with a fine orchestra Izcaray is one of his favorite parts about his job. He still savors composing cello concertos and performing his own works. Izcaray said he values working with orchestras because he can welcome people of all backgrounds, cultures and personalities into his world of music. Diversity is what he pays attention to. “Music evangelizing” is what Izcaray calls it. For Izcaray, being someone who is from a place not necessarily associated with classical music gives him further motivation to open his arms to people with any level of music background, or lack thereof, but with a passion to learn. “I like to be the one who cares who they are and where they came from,” Izcaray said. “I knock down all of those barriers.” Izcaray said that he wants to be remembered “as a musician who gave it all.”



Embrace’s plot off of North College Street on Oct. 19, 2020.

Embrace bands the people of Auburn together in faith By EMERY LAY Writer

Embrace, a local church, has recently adopted a new form of small groups called discipleship bands. According to Embrace’s website, discipleship bands are “a group of three to four people who read together, pray together and meet together.” Their goal is to “become the love of God for one another and the world,” they said. Once a church plant from Cornerstone Church in 2012, Embrace became independent in 2016. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the church had to get creative. “We felt like now, during this pandemic time … it’s not exactly the best time to have 15 or 20 people in someone’s home,” said

Amanda Hammett, the communications coordinator at Embrace. “We really have had a heart for micro-church groups like this for a while, but this felt like the right time to step into it.” Embrace adopted the discipleship band idea from Seedbed, an organization in Franklin, Tennessee. The churches use the word “band” because it symbolizes the act of holding one another. “We are equally in it together,” Hammett said. The bands are likened to the way Jesus interacted with his disciples, as well as the manner churches met in the early years of Christianity, she said. These early Christian churches were typically characterized by “deep roots with a few people,” Hammett said. “It’s not a novel concept really,”

Hammett said. “We say a discipleship band is really just people who are coming together for the sake of loving each other and being the love of God to the world around them.” Each group strives for empathy over sympathy. Hammett said several groups have recorded positive impacts from simply “holding space” for one another to share what is on their heart. “One of the first questions for each of the band meetings is, ‘How is it with your soul?’” Hammett said. “We are all so busy, and our world moves at such a fast pace that sometimes getting still and quiet is not a spiritual practice that a lot of us have. This band meeting puts you in a rhythm of evaluating your own soul.” One aspect of the groups is there is no specific leader. Embrace did

not want people in the groups to feel as if they have to counsel one another, she said. “There is only one counselor in this, and it’s the Holy Spirit,” Hammett said as she remembers what a representative at Seedbed told her. Additionally, there is no required reading plan. “It’s a little different than what a lot of people are used to in a small group or a Bible study group where that content is what the meeting forms around,” Hammett said. “The band meetings really have a lot more to do with each person’s individual heart.” While there is no primary curriculum, she said Embrace does encourage new bands to download the discipleship band app from Seedbed. There, they find “Discipleship Bands, A Practical Field Guide,” which helps the group set-

tle in and includes a 28-day reading plan. Hammett said Embrace also recommends Bible reading plans such as the Moravian Daily Text, He Reads Truth and She Reads Truth. “[The hope is] people are doing something together but leaving space for him to personally interact with each person,” Hammett said. They started the discipline bands in early August and now have nearly 20 groups in the making. “The reality is, it’s not a church program,” she said. “This is just sort of like a personal life decision.” Hammett said anyone who is interested can join and can find resources on their website. Embrace is also currently doing a “Banding Together” series that can be viewed on YouTube, and it holds Sunday mornings worship at 10:30 a.m. on North College Street.

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Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis

ACROSS 1 “... where the sun / Came peeping in at __”: Thomas Hood 5 Willie Mays, twice 8 Bowler’s test 13 Carpet calculation 14 China setting 15 Soccer star Rossi 16 *Old bowling alley employee 18 Cry of dismay 19 Country singer Womack 20 Even things 22 Part of ESL: Abbr. 23 *Pass prevention strategy 28 Editor’s change of heart 30 “I agree!” 31 It’s north of Afr. 32 Not very exciting 35 Seasickness symptom 38 Cautionary workplace axiom ... or a hint to the starts of the answers to starred clues 40 Elk 42 Pre-discount prices 43 Not well 44 Dollop 46 Pacino’s voice, at times 50 *Bad homes for critics? 55 Golf standard 56 Deal with 57 Capitol feature 59 Like four Sandy Koufax games 61 *One-on-one golf competition 64 It’s good in Chile 65 Agree with 66 Shoppe modifier 67 Shakespearean forest 68 2000s TV forensic technician, to pals 69 Fly high DOWN 1 Breakfast condiment sources 2 Get one’s bearings

3 Go back on a promise 4 Org. in the biodrama “Hidden Figures” 5 WY winter hrs. 6 Compete 7 Pre-Rose Bowl tradition 8 Many an “SNL” skit 9 Two-time U.S. Open winner Stewart 10 Illicit rendezvous site 11 La Corse, par exemple 12 Play (with) 14 53 for I, e.g. 17 Split __: New Zealand band 21 Court sport 24 Astro’s finish? 25 Harris of country 26 Take to court 27 Stat for Justin Verlander 29 Spicy cuisine 33 Time and again, to Yeats 34 Driver’s license datum 36 Poetic verb

37 Cold War letters 38 Made waves? 39 Slight fabrications 40 Freak (out) 41 Every bit 45 Rose ominously 47 Swing era Harlem hot spot 48 Tea since 1892 49 Supplication 51 River to the English Channel 52 Resolute about

53 Danish shoe brand 54 NFL defensive end Ndamukong __ 58 Med. plan options 59 Home to Kings: Abbr. 60 “__ Gang” 62 Versatile card 63 “Much appreciated,” in texts


By Mike Peluso (c)2020 Tribune Content Agency, LLC



Profile for The Auburn Plainsman

The Auburn Plainsman 10.22.20  

The Auburn Plainsman 10.22.20