You might think the social distancing and mask restrictions have halted the majority of events. There is no possibility of shoulder-to-shoulder trivia nights, or traditional events like the usual, packed Presidential Ball.
But, largely helped by the slowly warming weather, the Office of Student Engagement has found a way to make it work.
This past Saturday, March 20, Stags Under the Stars was held in the parking lot behind Campion Hall.
Using the new ice rink, food trucks, hot chocolate, music from WVOF and various amounts of social distanced yard games, they were able to give students ample opportunity to build community while keeping COVID restrictions in place.
Stags Under the Stars first came to fruition last fall, in collaboration with Residence Life, to help the first-year class in particular build community.
Kamala Kiem, Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Office of Student Engagement, stated that since last fall’s event was so popular (over 400 students attended), they wanted to open it up for all class years in the Spring.
Junior Grace Colalillo, an intern for the Office of Student Engagement, who helped plan and run the event stated that the 2021 edition was created to give all students the safe opportunity to engage with their classmates. But, to do so, they had to think big and spread the event over three different sections.
The gravel lot behind Campion Hall allowed students to socialize safely, with the food trucks, fire pits and some picnic tables. Then, by the basketball courts, students could ice-skate and use the curling lanes.
Colalillo states that this section was, “A huge hit!”
She continued by saying, “Students were able to access skates on-site and take laps around the link under the stars.”
Then, just behind the ice rink there sat all the lawn games, some hot chocolate and cookies, and then a little free Fairfield University beanie.
“The event itself was an overwhelming success!” Colalillo said, “With an attendance of over 330 students amongst the class years, Stags Under the Stars was one of the most widely attended University-sponsored events since the pandemic.”
She continued to say that the timing was just perfect, as there was a retreat group from the Sophomore Residential College Program that were able to stop by and connect further on the ice rink.
Even members of the Class of 2021 who attended the Campus Ministry Senior Retreat were able to stop by and enjoy dinner at the food trucks.
First-year Carina Kortick stated how happy she was to see people out and about in the warm weather, “I had fun hanging with my friends around fire pits as we enjoyed delicious hot chocolate and cups of mac and cheese. We also got free Fairfield winter hats and mugs and were surrounded by many friendly faces.”
Junior Katherine Kelley agreed saying, “It was a day I’ll never forget.”
Junior Brett McGrath, an intern with the Office of Student Engagement agrees that the event was very successful, “We had a good turnout and some fun food options at the food trucks as well as at the Sodexo table. I was maintaining the skating rink at the events and it certainly drew a lot of people over to give it a try.”
Yet, this was not an event that couldn’t be done without a lot of help from many groups in our campus community.
The Office of Residence Life, the Department of Public Safety, Conference and Events Management, Dining Services, Sodexo, Facilities and the Department of Athletics all came together to make this event the success it was.
In addition, many students stepped up to help staff the event. New Student Leaders Resident Assistants, Stags MeetUp hosts, Fairfield at Night members and many more helped run the event.
“The Stags Under the Stars Leadership team would like to thank all of the campus partners and student leaders who helped us to make our vision for these events become a reality!” Colalillo said.
“We are very pleased with the results of the event.” Kiem stated, “I’m blessed to work with such talented student leaders.”