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By Julia Callini

Staff Writer

On Feb. 9, students came together to celebrate the opening of the new ice rink outside of the townhouses. The rink is a SGA initiative that encourages students to get outside, and boosts their mental health.

The ice skating rink was first proposed during a town hall meeting on Jan. 13. Sierah Miles ’22 and Anna Witkowski ’22, co-secretaries of programming for the Student Government Association, decided to pursue the project as a result of student interest.

“Every year, the programmers’ goal is to put on events that bring students together, and give an option for fun on campus… and improve mental health” Miles said. “However, this year we can’t all be together in one space, so we revamped the way we spend our budget and put on programs.
This isn’t the first time the Student Government Association has endorsed and built a rink. Two years ago, the class of 2019 decided to build an ice rink near the townhouses using their SGA budget.

After a month of planning and communication, Lou Dimasi, former Men’s Hockey Coach, and the Saint Michael’s College Fire and Rescue Squad began the construction of the rink on Feb. 5.
Once the plans for ice rink construction were solidified, Miles reached out to Ice Breakers, a student group with a passion for ice skating. The group is looking to receive official club recognition through the SGA. The Ice Breakers will assist with programming and activities held on the rink, including a Hot Chocolate Night, and glow-in the dark activities.

“[The role of the rink] is to be able to go outside and do something fun and encourage people to stay safe,” said Nadia Racz ’22, Ice Breakers member.

Miles stated that although the rink still exists in a world of COVID-19, and proper protocols must be followed, the rink is meant to be an escape from everyday life.

“The goal is to give students a place to be away from school, away from COVID-19,” Miles said. “We have to have something that can boost [students’] mental health,” Miles said.

According to Miles, the driving force behind the ice rink was Saint Michael’s College junior and Ice Breakers member Kayla Riordan. Riordan has been looking for a fun and recreational way to skate with friends, and to her, the rink is a perfect solution.

“The only time you can spend with friends when outside your living space is outdoors,” Riordan said. “It’ll be a nice way to spend time with people you don’t normally see.”

With the SGA encouraging gathering, even outdoors, many are concerned about the possibility of COVID-19 transmission. However, Miles is confident this won’t be an issue, due to the rules of the rink which include maintaining a distance of at least six feet, and wearing a mask at all times while on or near the rink. Additionally, signs stating the rules will be placed near the rink.

“If we find out that people aren’t wearing masks and aren’t social distancing, we’re just going to have to become stricter on the regulations put in place, like lowering the maximum capacity,” Miles said.

For now, the rink is open to all students, 24 hours a day. Most of the time, those who wish to skate do not need to reserve a spot ahead of time, unless there is a sponsored event being held at the rink.

“We don’t want it to be something that you have to plan a week ahead,” Miles said. “We’d love for students to just throw on skates, and go outside for 15 minutes that day.

By Hazel Kieu

Staff Writer

It’s been almost a year since COVID-19 first rattled the U.S.. For students at St. Michael’s College, the future of study abroad programs still holds many uncertainties. What does the study abroad experience look like in the middle of a global pandemic? Should students even apply? Is it safe to travel outside the country and reside in another during a pandemic?
According to study abroad director, Peggy Imai, among the 50 to 60 Saint Michael’s students who had planned to study abroad this semester, only four decided to follow through. Between travel restrictions and public health concerns, the majority of study abroad programs have either been canceled or altered, and some college students have also made the decision to stay home on their own.

“It definitely stunk, especially on the day that I was supposed to leave,” said Megan Schneider ’22. She was supposed to study in Costa Rica this semester but decided to stay home within the last month before her trip.

This small percentage of St. Michael’s students choosing to study abroad seems to be the common trend amongst study abroad programs in the last twelve months. Wendy Lombardo, associate director of Institutional Relations at Arcadia University and study abroad program affiliate, reported a decrease from roughly 3000 students traveling abroad per year to around 100 students since the pandemic started.

Though many other colleges have shut down their entire study abroad departments as a response to the pandemic, Saint Michael’s College is one of the few that still keeps the program running.
“We haven’t done that on this campus, mainly because students are pretty good decision-makers,” said Peggy Imai. Students on campus can still seek advice about study abroad and make a plan for the future.

Imai’s point about good decision-making is not unfounded, as it was not an easy or straightforward decision to make. For many of these students who were considering study abroad this semester, this has been their dream for a long time. “I was even looking at study abroad programs when I was considering colleges, because I knew that was something I wanted to do in college,” Schneider said. Though she fell in love with her program in Costa Rica, she felt unprepared and didn’t receive enough information to form any real idea of what it was going to be like, she said.

While some students made the decision themselves to not study abroad, others were forced to stay because of travel restrictions. This was the case for Anna Bilotti ’22, whose initial plan was to study in Perth, Australia, only to find out that Australia had banned international travel in an effort to prevent another outbreak. As a result, her program was canceled.

Other programs have also been canceled this semester due to small turnout, or due to consideration of other countries’ healthcare infrastructure. “We made the right decision not to go [abroad] this semester because [we’re] thinking about how it’s going to affect students as well as the rest of the world,” Lombardo shared. On the other hand, students who are traveling abroad this semester have shared mixed feelings. Even though they are eager to immerse themselves in a different culture and learn as much as they can, they said, there is uncertainty about how their experience will unfold. Therefore, they are proceeding with a lot of caution. Alexyah Dethvongsa ’22, whose program consists of six weeks in Nepal and the rest of the semester in India, is hoping that in six weeks’ time, India will allow American citizens into their country. Maeve Kolb ‘22, who is studying in Kisumu, Kenya this semester, said that she is not only concerned about COVID-19 but also malaria and other diseases that she can contract, especially at a time when public health is already vulnerable.

Decisions to study abroad vary, but both students shared that they have been planning to study abroad for so long and they couldn’t give up that dream. “It’s so bad here…if I can go to the grocery store and get [COVID], why wouldn’t I just do what I have always wanted to do and not miss out on a valuable experience,” Kolb said.

Dethvongsa acknowledged this was a difficult decision to make. “People who are going are really passionate about this,” she added. Even though both of their programs have been altered because of the pandemic, they are still excited to learn more about public health and epidemiology during this critical time period.

Although the study abroad experience may not be the same, Lombardo from Arcadia University notes some silver linings to the situation. As a result of having to spend most time in their host city instead of being able to travel to neighboring areas, “students gained a much deeper understanding and appreciation for where they were studying abroad,” she said. Because of the pandemic, “people have to think about how what they do or don’t do affect other people around them,” she added, observing that students are moving beyond what they want to get out of a study abroad program to think about the global impact of their actions.

Studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult, but not impossible. There are many challenges and restrictions students have to navigate, depending on where they want to go. For those who are planning to go abroad, although it varies from program to program, there are usually health and safety staff available 24/7 for any students in need, as well as staff working closely on tracking the development of the pandemic. For those who couldn’t travel, there are still other opportunities in the future, as well as other ways to experience different cultures and get a global perspective, such as through virtual internships abroad. “If that study abroad experience is really important to you, it doesn’t hurt to apply and try. It might get canceled again but I think it’s worth it,” Bilotti said. She has much hope for the future and plans to apply again next Fall.

Sledding at Schmanska Park

By Will George

Photography Editor

Since the Covid-19 Pandemic, my days have consisted of me sitting in my room missing the time where I could see my friends without having to worry about a virus. I’ve been trying to change this by getting outside more and just doing something. Whether it’s a walk or going skiing at Sugarbush. I started taking my dogs for walks so I wasn’t inside all day, but eventually that too gets old. My friend group and I finally got our parents to let us go for hikes and we would bring lunch to eat at the top. Normally we would go to our friends house and hang out in his basement so it was a nice change of pace to have everyone go for a hike. Getting yourself outside during this pandemic can be hard, but there are many things you can go and do.

One of my favorite activities to do as a kid was to go sledding. Me and my friends would all have our parents drive us to this park in my town with our sleds. We would try to go as fast as we could and then run back up the hill. I would always try to find spots where it was icy, I liked to call those spots speed boosts like using a mushroom in Mario Kart.

Over winter break I realized that sledding is still fun. It may be an activity for kids, but who says it has to be. It was fun when we were kids so why wouldn’t it be fun now? A couple of my friends and I went sledding back in December and it was one of the best days of winter break. We made a jump and flattened the run-up just like we did back when we were kids. Since we are older now, we can go faster and the wipeouts are so much funnier than it used to be. Sledding is something everyone can do and is fun for all ages.

There are many places to go sledding within a short drive from campus. For example, Schmanska Park in Burlington has a great hill only six minutes from campus. When you get there, the parking lot is on the opposite side of the road and you will see a playground on the right and tennis courts on the left. Once you cross the road and go up the staircase, the sledding hill will be right in front of you. It has a perfect run up for a jump and big enough just to sled down. It is a steep hill, but there are multiple spots you can start from. The big hill at Schmanska Park isn’t that wide so it feels quite narrow, but it’s curved on both sides so you don’t go straight into the woods. As soon as the hill flattens out, there is a huge opening to either wipeout or ride away. We can’t become kids again, but we can do the things we loved as kids.

“Color” by Kelly Cullen was featured in the McCarthy Art Gallery from Feb. 8 through Feb.14. This exhibit featured geometric shapes painted on wood and canvas sheets. “Something For Your Mind” by Carly Huston is being featured in the McCarthy Art Gallery now until Feb. 21. This exhibit features paintings based off of lines from songs and poems.

“Something For Your Mind” by Carly Huston is being featured in the McCarthy Art Gallery now until Feb. 21. This exhibit features paintings based off of lines from songs and poems.