Sundown Sessions still connecting students despite social challenges

Sundown Sessions is hosted every Friday and Saturday evening with a variety of programs such as movie nights, live musical performances, and interactive activities. Students were participating in refit dance and stress ball activity last Saturday night. Chase (Junyan) Li | Photographer & Videographer

By Ava Dunwoody | Staff Writer

Whether it’s country line dancing or screen printing T-shirts, Baylor’s Union Board hosts a Sundown Session in the SUB every Saturday night. From 9 p.m to 1 a.m, students attend these free activities each week in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines.

Sarah Patterson, Union Board Graduate Apprentice in the Department of Student Activities, said she is glad Sundown Sessions are still running. She said the Union Board works hard each week to put on events for students.

“We meet weekly to talk about how we want to make the SUB feel like home,” Patterson said. “That’s our motto — ‘making the SUB feel like home.’ We seek to have programs that foster community and give students the opportunity to make friends or do things with their friends on campus and in the SUB.”

The Union Board was founded in 2012 and is a student organization of that is funded by the Department of Student Activities. It focuses on late night programming during the weekend and spreads the word through the weekly ‘What’s New BU’ email and communication with residence halls.

Katy senior Christian Beane is serving his second year on the Union Board and said they come up with ideas in meetings and plan the Sundown Sessions in advance each semester. They often partner with other organizations around campus, like Baylor Art Club or Fitwell, to put on events.

Beane said one of his favorite Sundown Sessions was when they partnered with Baylor Art Club to paint canvases and mugs. He said “that was fun because that was our biggest turnout” where they used almost 500 canvases.

“I know freshman year, I didn’t have a lot going on at night, so I really didn’t know what to do,” Beane said. “Seeing … all these new freshmen and new faces coming in and getting involved with the campus community is really special.”

The Union Board has made several changes to Sundown Sessions to go along with Baylor’s COVID-19 guidelines. Students now have to reserve a spot online to avoid going over capacity and masks are to be worn at all times. Tables are also spaced out with seating limits to enforce social distancing.

Patterson said the recent painting night was a good example of how things have changed. Normally, she said, students would be able to pour their own paint and use whatever supplies were laid out on the table.

“This year, Union Board members are doing all of that for people,” Patterson said. Students “will come up to the table, there’s plexiglass, our Union Board members have gloves on and then they can … put paint on a plate for you. You can come up and get more if you want, but it’s just a way to limit contact.”

Luckily, Patterson said, it still feels “normal” because “there’s music playing, there’s a buzz of conversation and it feels right. It feels like a break from everything that’s happening and all of the stress.”

In addition to Sundown Sessions, Union Board is also in charge of U-Break, which is normally a pop-up brunch bar event put on every other Friday in the SUB. This year, however, they have created a Youtube series with activities like cupcake decorating done by Union Board members.

Beane said he has enjoyed being a part of the Union Board and he encourages students to “keep going to Sundowns and then start asking questions” if they want to get involved. He said it’s a group that is “committed to helping other people” and “having fun.”

No matter what, Patterson said, Sundown Sessions are “a way for our students to connect with each other.” She said this is a “great way to do something outside of your residence hall,” especially if a student is a first semester freshman.

“It’s a fun, free space for our students to come do something that they aren’t necessarily going to get to do outside of campus,” Patterson said. “It’s a place where you can come and sit down at a table with someone you don’t know and make a friend.”