Destination Iowa State succeeds under COVID-19 adjustments


Students check in and receive T-shirts for Destination Iowa State on Aug. 13, 2020. 

Kylee Haueter

After adjustments were made to Destination Iowa State (DIS), organizers said the program succeeded despite COVID-19 and the derecho that swept through Iowa early last week.  

Some DIS events were shifted to virtual formats, group sizes were minimized and Cyclone Aides served as group leaders to limit the amount of staff needed for the program. In-person events were also moved outside or to a larger space to allow for social distancing.  

Sophomore in anthropology Landry Elman was a Cyclone Aide for DIS this semester.

“DIS was interesting to say the least,” Elman said. “Our students were divided into two groups: Cardinal and Gold. These groups had different times to do the same activities such as Breakfast on Central Campus (BOCC), Cyclone Skills, Clone Quest and Meet up at the MU. Most of these events took place on the same day except for BOCC, which was done over two days.”

Elman also mentioned having to enforce face coverings for the students in her group. 

“I had some students who would take off their face covering as soon as we would start walking somewhere,” she said. “It took some of the fun out of it since I had to enforce the face coverings and I definitely think it made some of my students not like me. As the days went on I got less and less kids, which is to be expected, but I always had a core group of students from each group come to events which was super awesome!”

Sarah Merrill, director of new student programs, said the event went well and students were still able to receive the full experience of being introduced to Iowa State.

“Destination Iowa State was largely successful — considering how unique 2020 is,” Merrill said. “We enjoyed offering new students a chance to connect with each other and experienced student leaders, Cyclone Aides. We also focused on helping students explore campus and learn more about resources available to them in their first semester on campus.” 

Referencing the derecho from early last week, Merrill said the storm was not a threat to the program, though bad weather later in the week led to the cancellation of one event.

“The weather on Monday didn’t stop us,” Merrill said. “We were able to rework our training schedule for our student leaders and take care of all necessary details thanks to a flexible and resilient team working behind the scenes to make DIS possible. We did encounter some bad weather on Friday, which did mean we had to cancel our Movie Night at Jack Trice.” 

Merrill is hopeful that in the future, Destination Iowa State will be able to return to a more normal look. 

“We hope to return to more traditional programming and utilize indoor event spaces in the future — all the more reason to Mask Up Iowa State and follow Cyclones Care expectations,” Merrill said.  

The program kickoff rally video can be found on the New Student Programs’ YouTube channel. Other videos, including a faculty advice video and a Cyclones Care summary video, are also available for viewing on the channel.