Dorms find innovative ways to build community during pandemic
Dasha Kudriavtseva | Friday, September 25, 2020
While COVID-19 has limited the variety of activities dorms can host, halls are trying to keep their traditions and allow the students to immerse themselves in the dorm life in safer and socially distant ways.
Sophomore Danny Brennan, a resident of Fischer Hall, reflected on the pandemic as an opportunity for dorms to be more creative about planning events.
“It’s definitely been tough so far,” Brennan said. “With all the restrictions, what we’ve traditionally done is a lot of barbecues and a lot of outdoor events with the dorm community, trying to tie people together in that way. But this year it’s been a little bit tougher than that, so we’ve had to be a little creative.”
Fisher Hall has been fundraising for St. Adalbert Catholic School for many years. This year, Fisher planned a tournament with an entry fee that supports St. Adalbert.
Brennan said it is important continue donating to St. Adalbert.
“[Fisher residents] love the idea of not only them being able to have fun and a little competition, but also being able to give to St. Adalbert because we do have a commitment. I would say everyone, I mean I can’t obviously speak for everyone, but we really care about St. Adalbert,” Brennan said.
The mood of competition also keeps residents active in Stanford Hall, who are participating in “Cross-Sectional Olympics,” Stanford president junior Allan Njomo said.
“Cross-Sectional Olympics is a big competition we are all having as a dorm,” Njomo said. “We have a variety of big events and smaller events. For example, everybody goes out on the field and does a quick 40-meter race. We also have games of the iPhone pool, checkers or ping pong. Over time, these points are adding up to see which section is going to win on all of it.”
Another signature event, ND 110, is organized by Duncan Hall. President, junior Jason Wanamaker described the event’s success this year.
“ND 110 is a stair climb that honors first responders that climbed the Twin Towers during 9/11,” Wanamaker said. “We got about 370 students to participate this year. Last year, only about 100 students participated, so we upped the participation a lot. At the end of the day, we got to write a check for $10,000 to the charity for disaster relief.”
Duncan also hosted a Yoga SYR with a certified yoga instructor.
“We have a certified yoga instructor in our dorm,” Wanamaker said. “He had people bring dates to the lawn behind Duncan. It was very fun. We got about 150 people total.”
The dorm presidents realize the difficulties for new students in meeting new people and making friends. Pasquerilla East president Meghan Bolinger shared how Zoom makes it easier for students to engage.
“The Zoom events could have helped with that as people were able to tune into things without necessarily taking that initial step right away,” the junior said.
Pasquerilla East Hall teamed up with the Spreading Positivity and Radiating Kindness (SPARK) Commission which allows freshmen to connect with upperclassmen.
“Upperclassmen and freshmen could sign up to help plan events and facilitate things together,” Bolinger said. “They were put in their SPARK groups, as an opportunity to meet new people who weren’t necessarily their roommates, go get dinner with them and plan events. It’s more freshmen targeted just because it’s a really difficult time this year.”
Lewis Hall and Walsh Hall have also created similar programs that could help freshmen get outside of their comfort zone and meet new people.
Lewis president, junior Claire Wilson commented how her dorm’s Big Little program is connecting freshmen with upperclassmen.
“This coming Friday is our Big Little reveal,” Wilson said. “This year, it is huge. We have so many littles that everyone has two littles.”
Walsh chief of staff, junior Caroline Bice said the hall has altered its traditional events to adhere to new safety guidelines.
“We have a lot of events that are Walsh traditions which we had to adapt for this year,” Bice said. “We have this thing called Soul Sisters which is basically a Bible study format discussion, where you just talk about your faith in a super informal way, its application to current situations so how you’re changing and how that affects you and your mental health.”