A full student population back on campus has generated a marked increase in enthusiasm for campus events. From Sexuality Women and Gender (SWAG) programming to wellness offerings, students have jumped at opportunities to partake in campus life.
“After the year we had last year, I think students are happy to find community,” Associate Dean of Student Affairs for Inclusion and Diversity and SWAG Director Kate Stern said. “For instance, [on] Thursday nights we have a weekly Quinner at 24 College … Last Thursday was nice weather, and we were able to do pizza outside and 25 people came. I really get the feeling that people are looking for community, and then I’d say with a smile, I think people love it when food is part of that community.”
With this surge, students and event facilitators must account for the feasibility of holding crowded events due to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic.
“We all left last spring thinking that we’ve been vaccinated, and we were gonna come back and it was going to be normal,” Stern said. “Then it was all ‘Delta Delta Delta.’”
Assistant Director of Student Wellness Kate Nicholson echoed Stern’s sentiment and highlighted challenges that the Wellness Center is hoping to leave in its rear-view mirror.
“Even though we all needed wellness support during the pandemic it was truly really challenging to convert programming,” Nicholson said. “So much of what we do with wellness is about keeping our human vitality rich. It felt so diminished last year—everyone at screens, at a distance.”
Nicholson believes the return of in-person campus events and overwhelmingly positive response from the student body serves as a reminder that, while the College may still be healing from the hardships of the pandemic, there has never been a more important time for students to connect with one another. The enthusiasm and patience that students bring to campus events has not gone unnoticed by administrators and other staff members alike.
“I get to bring volunteers onto campus for our acupuncture clinic, our reiki clinics, our dance programs et cetera,” Nicholson said. “So far the response I’m getting behind the scenes from our volunteers is, ‘Wow, students are so fantastic to connect with.’ There is something really palpable around what students are bringing to the community.”
Student-led events have been similarly well-received. Mistaken For Strangers, a student band, performed in front of Mac House a couple of weekends ago. Singer/Guitarist Colter Adams ’24 was blown away by the experience.
“Honestly, videos would be better than words,” Adams said. “It was insane. We had probably 200 people. The energy was incredible. So many people were ready to catch live music.”
Director of Student Activities Nate Hintze feels that students should mobilize their enthusiasm to capitalize on this unique opportunity to create new traditions.
“At lunch today there was a jazz band in the Coe Quad tent, and that’s a totally different experience that didn’t happen before the pandemic,” Hintze said. “I hope it continues when everyone gets to return [indoors]. To be able to hear the music from my office in the Union, it’s super fun—this should stay forever.”