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College hopes to boost morale in winter months with quad lights initiative

November 10, 2023

Alex Spear
TWINKLE, TWINKLE LITTLE LIGHT: Strands of LED lights wrap around the lamposts that dot the quad. These lights are part of an initiative to help students cope with the early darkness of Maine winters.

On Sunday, the end of daylight savings time signaled jarring 4:30 p.m. sunsets and the onset of a cold winter in Brunswick. But this year, there is a silver lining, or lighting, to the turmoil.

Even though the sun now sets earlier, campus will still shine bright with the addition of LED lights wrapped around the lampposts on the Quad as well as the trees in the Odeum outside Studzinski Hall. This past week, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration & Treasurer Matt Orlando and Senior Vice President for Inclusion and Diversity Benje Douglas led an initiative to install LED lights to brighten dark areas around campus and boost morale.

Orlando decided to kickstart this initiative after receiving letters from students about the lack of light on campus at night.

“Daylight savings time is a very long protracted period. It gets dark really early here for most of the winter,” Orlando said. “If there’s a way to make that acclimation a little bit more enjoyable, why not do it? And there was general consensus around that.”

Orlando and Douglas started this initiative on a tight timeline, so next year, they hope to give electricians more of a head start that could enable them to install even more lights around campus. Given Brunswick’s light ordinance, Orlando and Douglas are hoping to find the right balance between adding lights around campus and limiting light pollution.

“It’s just a subtle change and brings joy to the students. I hope that students will be more inclined to … grab a hot cup of coffee or cocoa and sit on a bench on the quad and enjoy the scene on a chilly winter night,” Orlando said.

Professor of Psychology Samuel Putnam said that daylight savings time can have a significant impact on students.

“Being far from home is tough any time of year. So for someone who’s struggling with that, the winter can be really hard,” Putnam said. “That circadian rhythm shift has an impact on people. It’s not the same thing as seasonal affective disorder, but it does have psychological effects.”

While Putnam said the light installation will not necessarily help people adjust their circadian rhythm to the end of daylight saving time, it might help improve overall morale across campus.

Tom Han ’25 echoed these sentiments.

“I have a 4:15 class, so it was kind of sad … to walk out of the classroom and you’re like, ‘Oh, my god, it’s already dark outside,’” Han said. “But the lights make it a whole lot brighter…. It’s pretty cute. I like it.”

Han said the lights also make campus feel safer at night.

“It’s so cold outside. It’s not like people are gonna be outside all the time, but when I’m walking back from Searles to [Coles Tower] after my LA hours, it’s definitely gonna be nice if the place is more bright,” Han said.


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