Night Owl students helping KSU put safety first

KENNESAW, Ga. | Aug 10, 2020

Lee Oliver is accustomed to utilizing computer-aided design (CAD) to draw venue layouts for a variety of events held at Kennesaw State University. However, he never envisioned doing it to reconfigure hundreds of areas on KSU’s campuses into socially distanced classrooms.

Five student leaders – Oliver, Patricia Nwabude, Amy Forgerson, Taylor Garren and Dylan Harris – from Night Owl, the student group responsible for the day-to-day operations of KSU events, created the CAD diagrams in preparation for the start of fall semester. Along with having students’ seats at least six feet apart from each other, the designs had to factor other social-distancing considerations such as how far the first row of desks is from the board or how far the back row is from the door.

“I never would’ve imagined I’d be scrolling though 700 rooms of campus, a lot of which I have never seen in-person before, and drawing where people are going to be sitting for classes,” said Oliver, a senior majoring in sport management who serves in Night Owl’s top student position, chief lead. “It does translate very easily to what we normally do – it’s just a different type of venue.”

social distancing

Night Owl students now are in the process of carrying out the classroom plans. Teams have been working daily to move furnishings out of several rooms to create additional space, while adding furniture and fixtures to some non-classroom spaces to convert them into temporary classrooms.

In all, Night Owl students will put more than 1,000 work hours into the project, according to Erin Wylie, staffing and student engagement coordinator for the Department of Event and Venue Management. Following the 176 hours the student leaders logged to create the CAD drawings, a crew of 36 students will total approximately 860 hours over 12 days to complete the campus reconfiguration.

“Our team is more than happy to put in the work,” Oliver said. “We are adaptable because we’re in event management and we’re used to figuring out logistics all the time, and we have more than capable brains and labor to do it, so why not?”

As the event conversion lead assistant for Night Owl, Nwabude coordinates arranging KSU venues for different events, such as configuring Fifth Third Bank Stadium for a football game one day and a soccer game the next day. However, she said that, in her four years working with Night Owl, she has not been part of an endeavor this unique – or rewarding.

“I like that I’m part of making sure that everyone comes back to campus in the safest way possible,” said Nwabude, a senior majoring in human services. “It makes for long days, but it’s work that has to be done, and I’m enjoying it. I can help by reassuring Owl Nation that work is being done to keep them safe when they come back.”

Zach Kerns, executive director of the Department of Event and Venue Management, credited the students for tackling what he termed “a massive project.” He added that the knowledge and experience the Night Owls are gaining could benefit them after they graduate, in whatever career fields they pursue.

“Anytime we can put our own students into meaningful experiences right here on campus, it builds their resumé and their portfolio,” Kerns said. “When they leave KSU, they will be able to talk about how they were actually able to help and see tangible results from the work they did.”

– Paul Floeckher

Photos by Jason Getz

Related Stories

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit