Faced with the countless challenges brought on by the pandemic, the administration recognized that, despite increased safety measures, connecting students would be essential to maintaining the mental health of those on campus. The College has thus launched a series of efforts to create a supportive community while still ensuring safety. One of these efforts is the Community Advisor (CA) Weekend Night Programs (WNPs).
“These programs are intended to not only help facilitate multiple options for getting out of your space, but [also] for making connections and building relationships with your campus community in a time that has posed many challenges to that feeling of connectedness,” said Residential Life Coordinator Ryland Berry.
The Weekend Night Programs are hosted by CAs in various residential buildings in order to facilitate connections among fellow residents. Megan Hasenfratz ’22, a CA in the Old Kenyon Residence Hall, hosted a smoothie night and an acrylic painting event, while John Ortiz ’22, a CA in Gund Residence Hall, organized an evening with snacks and Spanish music.
CAs tailor these events based on their residents’ preferences, gathered through online surveys. Residents have requested a variety of different activities. “A lot of my residents said that anything sort of food-related or Netflix-related would be really fun, or something to do that is mindless and can just get their mind off of doing whatever,” said Hasenfratz.
With the current 10-person limit on social gatherings, turnout for these programs varies. Ortiz admitted that some students came, grabbed snacks and went back to their rooms. Others have confirmed this trend in variable attendance. “Many of the WNPs have had turnouts of 10, while some are a couple of students,” Berry said. “Either way, we feel that having even one student attend is a success because that student was able to get out of their space, connect with a CA and do an activity.”
While these events are intended to provide a social outlet, CAs understand that these programs are not a perfect solution. Some students still attend social gatherings which violate COVID-19 guidelines. Weekend Night Programs, while not necessarily able to match the level of enjoyment of a pre-COVID-19 party, at least guarantee better safety.
“While there is no one substitute for parties, we wanted to contribute to the options students have when it comes to weekend activities,” Berry said.