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New ice rink at Saint Mary’s brings mixed reactions

| Thursday, March 18, 2021

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article said the ice rink opened on March 23 when it actually opened on March 13. The Observer regrets this error.

In an email sent late January, College President Katie Conboy announced Saint Mary’s students that a skating rink was on the way. The email talked about “Winter Wonderland” coming to campus, so that students could gather safely in outside spaces.

Crystal Ramirez | The Observer
The ice rink is the latest part of Saint Mary’s 2021 “Winter Wonderland.” The rink had its grand opening March 13 and is available for students to use to socialize outside their dorm rooms.

On Feb. 9, Conboy sent a follow-up email with an update on the “Winter Wonderland” and the promised ice rink. In the email, she said these additions to campus were under construction. Conboy also mentioned she had received positive feedback and she was excited to have students be able to use these new areas.

After the ice rink was installed the week of March 8, it was opened to students March 13. Students who came out to use the ice rink for the first time enjoyed hot chocolate and s’mores by the rink, which is located in the patio area behind Le Mans.

Senior Carina Garza described her frustration with the initial news of an ice rink coming to campus.

“I was kind of mad, I thought the money could have gone to something else,“ she said. “I’ll be completely honest — I thought it could have gone to more important things on campus.” 

However, she said she understands why they did it. 

“Their heart and intention were in the right place, but I think there are more things going on that the money could have been used for,“ Garza said. “However, I also don’t know if the money was donated, and if it was donated by someone, then usually they get to choose what it goes to.” 

Garza said she thought the construction of the ice rink took too long and got students’ hopes up.

Now that the ice rink is up and running, and Garza has had the opportunity to see the rink itself, she said she believes it’s too small.

“I think maybe five girls, maybe, can be on it at and socially distance,” she said. “Especially as there is still an issue of students following COVID-19 procedures I don’t think it helps — unless there is someone actually monitoring, who is actually watching the number of students on the rink.” 

Garza herself does not intend to use the ice rink, she said, since she doesn’t know how to ice skate.

“I would prefer to go into the South Bend community and go to Howard Park — following COVID guidelines since it is bigger, there are more activities and it’s nicer,” Garza said.  

Ultimately, Garza’s main issue is the size of the rink —  but she said she appreciates the school’s effort to establish and bring something to campus and so give students more entertainment options.

“I think because we are a college and it’s so hard for the students to stay on campus, seeing as the pandemic is going on, and they want to go out and do these things, I understand as to why Saint Mary’s got the ice rink,” she said. “And I appreciate their intention, it was in the right place, but I don‘t think that will keep students on campus and keep them from going home, because they are already doing it and they’re not going to stop.”

First-year Anabelle Rivas had a different reaction to the initial news.

“I was really excited, I had only gone ice skating once, and I was excited that I wouldn’t have to go off campus to do it,“ she said.

Rivas felt the establishment of the rink could have come sooner given the size of the rink, and voiced concerns for the approaching spring. 

“Well, I feel like it could have come earlier, especially for what we got — it could have been way earlier,” she said. “And it’s also getting warmer, and ice skating is not something you do when it’s warm outside. So, I was expecting it to come sooner — like the second week of classes, or maybe like a couple of weeks, but not a whole month.”

Like Garza, Rivas said she had not personally used the rink.

“I’ve never skated on it, but I walked on it one time, and I was like ‘This is plastic’,” she said. “If I had skates on I would literally just walk, and I was thinking maximum two people, not many students [could use it simultaneously].”

Rivas voiced concerns for the practicality of the rink.

“I feel like no one is really gonna use it,“ she said. “It will sort of just be there, and I think those who will use it will be just like groups of friends who want to try it out.”

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