RUFFOLO: Marquette should offer more social events for students amid pandemic

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Photo by Claire Gallagher

Students need more events on green spaces around campus.

Marquette University must expand in-person social opportunities by creating more on-campus events for students, while still being mindful of social distancing guidelines. 

First-year students in particular find themselves in a difficult position this semester, as the social life that defines the on-campus college experience has been severely hindered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While current health guidelines meant to protect students’ safety make it impossible to resume normal activity, it is still necessary to create events that adhere to social distancing protocols, while still allowing a social environment for students. 

This socialization is a vital part of the college experience and will aid the mental and emotional health of students who need a break from school work.

Late Night Marquette has traditionally provided students with weekend opportunities to socialize without drinking and partying, such as trivia and movie nights. 

While these events are still occurring to a lesser extent and do offer socialization opportunities for students, it would be wise to also create daytime options and develop opportunities exclusively for first-year students who are seeking to meet others in a similar position as them.

Groups could host off-campus events like hiking or biking. Some residence halls are hosting socially distanced events for residents outside, but student groups could host more events like craft nights, game nights or holiday-specified festivities to give students the ability to make friends while also maintaining safe distances.

It is especially important to create distanced events in large indoor spaces as the evenings grow colder and students are no longer able to hang out on campus green spaces.

While sophomores and upperclassmen have had the ability to enjoy first-year traditions that have allowed them to create their own social network, first-year students lack this opportunity. Combined with the fact that there is little to do on campus and even simple things like eating in dining halls or visiting different resident halls have been significantly reduced or eliminated entirely, socializing is especially hard.

While it is understandable that the university is following COVID-19 safety precautions by decreasing social gatherings, facilitating events that can be safely participated in will help students build relationships and avoid isolation.

 The opportunities for social interaction and physical activity are decreased by the fact that many students have classes online, and spending all day in a small dorm room can easily make one grow stir-crazy.

Without fun alternatives, it is easy for students to turn to activities like drinking and densely congregating together to party, which will only aid the transmission of COVID-19. Past instances of crowded off-campus parties have already been documented. If the spread of the virus becomes out of control, Marquette runs the risk of returning to complete remote learning, and students may have to evacuate residence halls. 

If the university sponsors monitored events, it is able to plan events in accordance with safety guidelines. It reduces the worry of the students making decisions that can cause harm, while also offering a much-needed option for students who are looking for something to do other than binge-drinking in the dorms.

While the first priority of college is to provide a meaningful education, some people chose to attend college in-person this semester because they craved the full college experience.

It is hard for universities to allow this aspect of college to fully resume, especially with the threat of a contagious virus. But if the university would increase the amount of on-campus events with first-year students in mind, it would dramatically improve the health and happiness of the student body.

This story was written by Lucia Ruffolo. She can be reached at lucia.ruffolo@marquette.edu.