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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.