Ice rinks, Winter Activities Center draw wide student participation
In the three weeks since the end of the initial quarantine period for winter term, students have taken advantage of a variety of outdoor programming activities offered by the College, including the two ice skating rinks in front of Baker-Berry Library, fire pits on the Green and around the Collis Center and cross-country ski and snowshoe rentals at the new Winter Activities Center near the golf course.
According to Outdoor Programs Office director Coz Teplitz, there have been around 1,000 unique equipment rentals through the Winter Activities Center as of last week. Outdoor rentals manager Michael Silverman added that there have been about 1,725 skate rentals at the ice rink as of Saturday.
“We’ve been extremely happy about the energy [around the programming] being free this year for the students, and it’s just a very, very positive reception of all the activities,” Silverman said.
Federico Cigolot ’24 and Solange Acosta-Rodríguez ’24 both said that they have enjoyed the outdoor programming this winter. Cigolot has made use of the ice rinks, fire pits and cross-country ski rentals, he said.
“Skating and skiing, for me, have been the highlight of the term,” Cigolot said, adding that he felt the fire pits around the Green and at Collis were a great idea, as they offer students the chance to gather safely, “get hot chocolate and just chill with friends.”
Acosta-Rodríguez, who works at the Winter Activities Center, has so far taken one cross-country skiing lesson. In addition, she said that she frequently goes ice skating on the Green and has been going on hikes with Cabin and Trail and People of Color Outdoors, two Dartmouth Outing Club subclubs.
“I am from Miami, and a lot of winter activities aren’t financially accessible to me, so this is really the first time I’ve had the chance to do it all,” Acosta-Rodríguez said.
Acosta-Rodríguez acknowledged that outdoor sports can be “intimidating if you … don’t come from the wealth or the racial background that people assume you have to be in order to interact with outdoor spaces.” She said that she has appreciated Dartmouth offering financial aid for ski lessons and keeping many of the other activities — including skating and cross-country skiing — free of charge.
However, she added that some people may not realize these activities and equipment are available to them for free, which could inhibit participation.
Ekene Duruaku ’22, who works part-time at the skating rink, said that he has enjoyed seeing students of all class years making use of the rink and other activities.
“It’s really nice to see that [this] winter, at least students feel like they can do things around campus, and it really brings a livelihood to the Green that, even in past winters, there just wasn’t,” Duruaku said.
Due to the high volume of reservations at the ice rink, OPO is currently working on a more efficient and accessible system.
“We’re not ready to announce anything yet, but hopefully in the next couple of days, we’ll have a new system online,” Teplitz said.
Because COVID-19 has kept people indoors for so long, Silverman said he believes that the winter outdoor programming has succeeded in lifting spirits around campus.
“[The positivity] is infectious to everybody –– we as staff or faculty, and students –– it’s just everybody is more upbeat, we’ve been waiting to do something together,” he said.
Duruaku echoed this sentiment and noted that he hopes Dartmouth continues to offer winter outdoor programming in the future.
“I’m really happy that they’re doing it,” he said. “I’m really happy I can be a part of it, and honestly, I hope that they do this again in the future when it’s no longer COVID times.”
Acosta-Rodríguez also shared her hope that the College will keep making outdoor activities free and accessible to all students, noting the importance of reminding students that they “don’t have to look a certain way or be a certain way to be outside.”