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The Dartmouth
April 19, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Verbum Ultimum: Free Skates

Dartmouth should provide free skate rentals for students looking to use the ice rink on the Green.

Winter has arrived in full force this week, and alongside the onslaught of ice and snow, another familiar sight for older students has appeared as well — after two years, ice skating is back on the Green. This Editorial Board would like to thank Dartmouth Facilities Operations and Management for installing the rink, which proved a hit in previous years. However, one logistical hiccup is preventing all of campus from enjoying this activity to the fullest extent possible: a lack of skates. 

Unlike the last time the ice rink on the Green was constructed, the College is not providing skates for students to borrow near the rink, and an article in Dartmouth News Weekly noted that “visitors will have to bring their own.” According to The Dartmouth’s recent coverage, some skates are available for rent in the Dartmouth Outdoor Rental space in Robinson Hall; however, we are concerned that due to a limited supply of skates and lack of advertising about this option, students will be deterred from using the rink. We ask the administration and the Outdoor Programs Office to offer skates for students to borrow on the Green, just as they did two years ago. 

Although there may be some students who have their own skates, the majority of Dartmouth students, unsurprisingly, do not. It is worth noting that only one out of nine members of our Editorial Board has ice skates. Dartmouth students who hail from warmer parts of the country and the globe — and likely did not grow up playing ice sports — probably do not have their own pair of skates. Moreover, even the few students who may own skates would also have had to bring them to campus — an unlikely possibility in itself.

It is unfortunate that the College constructed an ice rink but doesn’t offer ice skate rentals to students, as many students will be unable to use it. As a result, only students who own ice skates, along with town residents, will enjoy the ice rink. By limiting skating access to those who are fortunate enough to already have their own skates, students face the dilemma of having to buy their own if they wish to participate. This cost places an undue burden on students, especially those who are low-income. It seems particularly burdensome given the $342 student activity fee students already pay annually as part of their tuition. Shouldn’t that money go to activities like this?

It’s true that skate rentals are available on campus. However, they are either tucked away in Robinson Hall or quite far away from the Green at the Dartmouth Outing Club House on the north side of Occom Pond. The onus to provide skates should not fall on the DOC, nor should students have to trek all the way across campus to Occom Pond to acquire skates. The installation of the rink on the Green during the COVID-19 pandemic was indeed partly in response to the unreliability of Occom as a safe place for skating. During a time characterized by harsh restrictions on social gatherings, the rink allowed students to socialize and maintain their mental health during a uniquely taxing time. But any winter term is a difficult time for campus well-being, and activities such as this one — when made accessible — go a long way towards boosting students’ morale.

The College has found means to provide skate rentals by the rink in years past. Previously, thanks to the presence of a trailer on the Green next to the rink, students were able to trade their Dartmouth IDs for a pair of skates for the day. With all this in mind, we encourage the College to explore ways to do so again this year, so all students may enjoy ice skating on the Green. 

The editorial board consists of opinion staff columnists, the opinion editors, the executive editors and the editor-in-chief.