Courtesy of Cornell University

McGraw Tower adorns a pink heart for Valentine's Day.

February 16, 2021

Viruses and Valentines: Students Find Safe Ways to Celebrate

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Following a year of social distancing rules and face masks, the days of holding hands or sharing dessert with a significant other seem to be long gone. 

As students celebrated Valentine’s Day on Sunday, however, they retained some sense of normalcy. Campus groups organized virtual events over the weekend, giving students the opportunity to mingle and participate in online games and activities. 

One such event was organized by the Welcome Weekend Committee and Cornell’s Student Union Board, who partnered with Neon Entertainment to host a ‘Cupid Shuffle Trivia Game Show’ as a part of their “Thank Goodness It’s Friday” series. 

Students competed to win cash prizes, while a professional comedian host from Neon Entertainment facilitated. Jade Ovadia ’21, president of the Welcome Weekend Committee, said she felt the event was a success, providing students a chance to relax after the semester’s first week of classes. 

“Virtual classes are very stressful, so we wanted something that would be fun and light-hearted,” Ovadia said. “We figured it a great way to spread the love vibes and de-stress after classes and make students happy and spread some cheer.” 

For couples celebrating this weekend, the virus limited the kind of activities they could participate in. In the past, nice meals on Valentine’s Day were routine, but many students changed their dining plans as Ithaca restaurants have curbed most, if not all, in-person dining.  

Aneesa Sheikh ’23 recalled finding it extremely difficult to get a reservation at a dine-in restaurant for her and her boyfriend on Sunday. 

“For Valentine’s Day, we went to Ithaca Commons to grab a nice dinner and spend some time together,” Sheikh said. “It was harder to get a reservation at a dine-in restaurant, and we probably would have done some other activity before or after dinner that wasn’t possible because of the restrictions.”

Similarly, as he reflected on his date over the weekend, Rishi Kansara ’23 said his plans did change because of virus restrictions:  “Instead of eating there, we had to eat on the floor of a dorm,” he said. 

Kansara also said that the restaurant he visited required a long wait because of the influx of orders on Valentine’s Day, which delayed their order by over an hour.

Despite these challenges, both Sheikh and Kansara said that they were grateful for the short break from classes and work. 

“Regardless, it was still nice to relax and talk after a hectic first week, with the cold weather and online classes,” Sheikh said.

While couples were still able to spend time together, those hoping to meet new people said they felt this Valentine’s Day was missing the love.

“My plans did change because of the pandemic. It would have been nice to go on a date to a restaurant with somebody, but it wasn’t worth the risk,” said Giovanni Moreira ’23. 

But Moreira, like many other students, made the most of the weekend by celebrating safely with a group of friends. 

“I got together with a few single friends, and we played a board game and listened to some music,” Moreira said. “It was nice to stay indoors and have a brief distraction from school and COVID.”