The High Holidays are considered a time of reflection for the Jewish community, but this year they fall during a time of reflection for the whole College community. When Hillel received requests from 29 on-campus students to attend the organization’s Friday Rosh Hashanah dinner—nine students more than the maximum capacity for campus gatherings—the College had to make a decision.
Two ideas were proposed: split the group in two, or seek an exemption from the campus gathering cap.
“Depending on how many people sign up, it might make sense to do two concurrent events on two different parts of campus,” Director of Religious and Spiritual Life Eduardo Pazos said in a phone call with the Orient. “At the same time, you don’t want to split the groups so thinly that they kind of feel small. You don’t want to have ten people on one site and 11 people at the other site.”
For the Hillel dinner, which would only exceed the limit by nine students, Hillel was granted an exemption. Exemptions can only be granted for College-sponsored events and even then only a limited number of additional students are permitted to be present.
“It depends on the scope of how many people we’re talking about,” Pazos explained. “It’s done on a case-by-case basis, meaning if I had 21 or 22 students, I could ask College administrators to see if we could do an exception for that. Of course, if you have 100 students, the answer is probably no.”
The loosening of campus guidelines follows the College officially entering Yellow Status after the number of active COVID-19 cases on campus dropped to zero. But the College is still observing strict protocols to ensure the safety of its staff and students.
“The College is examining its policy on gathering-limit size for College-sponsored events with professional staff present,” Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Director of Residential and Student Life Mike Ranen wrote in an email to the Orient. “We are allowing an increase in gathering size for events that can be managed in a way to ensure compliance with any facial covering and social distance guidelines.”