Elise Wennberg—Staff Writer
COVID-19 has caused many complications for Dordt University—one of them being space. Within Dordt there are only so many large spaces that can be used at one time. The solution: a large, blue tent next to the Commons.
According to Howard Wilson, vice president of university operations, the tent in lot 13 will be used for five main affairs. These include overflow dining, large gatherings, special events, classes, and “things that have not happened that might happen.” Students can also book the tent if they require a large space. Wilson expects the tent to be up for about two months, or until Thanksgiving break.
“[We’re] creating a roadmap, not an encyclopedia; our roadmap helps us get to December 11th with face-to-face instruction, residential living, and community dining.” Wilson said. “Our roadmap has to be flexible; it is like when you’re driving and all a sudden there’s a detour, you just have to figure that into your plan.”
The tent came from Doug and Cindy Hubers, local owners of Midwest Tent Rental. It measures 60 feet by 120 feet, allowing for 150 people to social distance under the canvas. It features a television and speakers, doors, and a space heater.
Dordt picked lot 13 for its closeness to the Commons and hard surface. Because this location sacrifices student parking spaces, more spots have opened up for students behind the Theatre Arts Center and B.J. Haan.
To ensure the tent’s safety and sturdiness, the maintenance crew drilled into the concrete to secure the tent to the ground. Tying down the tent also provides an airtight space, protecting the people inside the tent from the wind and weather.
Coach Griffin Pelot and eight football members also aided in setting up the tent, working alongside the maintenance and ground crews. Zane Gunter, a sophomore running back on the team, helped with this process. Gunter said setting up the tent took about two hours in total.
“There was plenty of hands-on work to be done throughout the process, so our group stayed busy.” Gunter said.
Once the crew secured the tent with ropes and connecting clips, they began setting up the poles and support beams that held up the tent walls.
“The football team is thankful for the newer, larger meeting space.” Gunter said. “I want to thank Howard Wilson and the rest of the faculty at Dordt, including the maintenance and grounds teams, for the hard work and diligence that was required to acquire the tent and set it up.”
Once the had been put up, Dordt administration held a contest to name it. Dordt students submitted potential names via email directly to Howard Wilson for the chance to win a $30 gift card to the campus store. An independent selection committee met and deliberated over names ranging from “Shalom Dome” to “Commons 2.0” and “The Turquoise Tent.” In the end, they picked a name submitted by freshman Aaron De Jong and dubbed the tent “The Bubble”