Looking Ahead: Students React to Winter Term Changes
Every winter, Hanover undergoes a transformation. The days get shorter, temperatures plummet and snow covers campus. However, this winter features a more dramatic shift than usual. As Dartmouth prepares to welcome students back for the winter term, signs of a more fun, social experience are appearing around campus.
In his Jan. 7 “Community Conversations” livestream, Provost Joseph Helble announced that the College promises to groom the golf course to allow for cross-country skiing, install 12 fire pits around campus and build an ice skating rink on the Green, alongside measures to expand indoor socialization opportunities for students.
Alexander Kish ’24, a Hanover resident, described the area as currently covered in “a blanket of white” and reported that he has seen a “groomer crossing” sign along Route 10 near the golf course, hinting that plans for the ski course are in the works. According to Helble, the College is hoping for more snow to complete the cross-country ski trails, and the ice skating rink will be complete by the end of the month if weather permits.
Many students are excited to see the College providing more opportunities for outdoor activities that are sustainable in the winter weather. Jenny Chen ’21 is particularly excited about the shuttles to the Dartmouth Skiway and ice skating on the Green, and she feels that these activities will provide enough avenues for socialization.
“I’m kind of optimistic right now,” Chen said. “I think in the fall, there were a lot of ways to socialize safely. I went on a bunch of DOC trips with the e-bikes, and those were a lot of fun, even though usually I don't go on DOC trips.”
As the weather grows colder and it becomes more difficult for students to engage comfortably outside, some students say they are grateful that the College has taken initiative to provide these opportunities.
“Especially in the winter, getting overly stressed out and depressed is very easy because it gets dark really early, and you're stuck in your dorm room whenever you're doing work,” Kish said. “… It’s really nice to add different avenues for students to have some time to socialize, but also to just take a break.”
While many students feel that outdoor excursions will make for a more fulfilling winter term, these opportunities are not perfect solutions for everyone. Chen worries that activities like skiing and snowboarding might not be accessible to all students.
“It just sucks if you’re not really an outdoor person, or you don’t know how to ski and you don’t really want to learn,” Chen said. “Also, skiing and snowboarding are kind of expensive, so there are a lot of barriers which I think some students might face, and that that can be a really big issue.”
Beyond the winter sports on campus, another opportunity for socializing will come from the College removing restrictions on visiting other residence halls. Chen said she is glad that the College is revising the policy, as she felt that being limited to her own residence hall prevented her from interacting with friends.
For many ’24s who were on campus for the first time this fall, the visitation policy also limited whom they interacted with. Hayden El Rafei ’24 said he is most excited to be able to visit friends who don’t live in his building.
“I feel like that’ll help out the social side of everything. That will definitely be an improvement on last semester,” El Rafei said, adding that while he knows COVID-19 protocols are necessary to keep students safe, he believes the experience on campus needs to be more social.
This term will also be the first winter in Hanover for most freshmen and transfer students. El Rafei lives in Tennessee and has never seen more than an inch of snow. He said he is looking forward to experiencing a Hanover winter, even within the context of COVID-19.
“I am so excited for winter because I love cold weather,” El Rafei said. “But again, I probably don't know what I'm talking about at all, and I'm going to make a total fool of myself when I’m buried in snow in Hanover.”
This winter gives students a lot to look forward to. In comparison to fall term, the College is approaching winter with an attitude of flexibility and openness, which will hopefully allow the community to strike that elusive balance between protecting both physical and mental health.
“I think that we can look at winter a little bit more optimistically because now we can explore new ways to overcome these challenges that are posed with coronavirus,” El Rafei said. “I think that fall term gave us the experience that we need to be a little bit more innovative, with the way that we're having to deal with all of this, and I'm excited to see what we come up with.”