Lev Katreczko / Sun Staff Photographer

Cornell students make the best of the cold weather and continued COVID risk.

February 23, 2021

Spring Semester Complicates Socialization for First-Year Students

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For some first-year students, who often found the outdoors a critical social nexus, the cold has frozen chances for meeting new people as the virus risk remains on campus. 

Scott Siegel ’24 said during the fall semester, socializing with friends was easy — being outside lowered the virus risk and offered more space to socially distance. Now, the winter weather has led to crowding in indoor public spaces.

“The lounges are always full and on the border of breaking social distancing guidelines,” Siegel said. “I think everyone has the best intentions in mind and [socializes] safely with masks, personal space and limiting contact, so it’s hard to blame any one person for trying to leave their room and meet people.”

Another struggle students eager to meet new people face is striking a balance between being friendly and being conscious of the virus.

“People are more cautious about inviting people to their dorm, which makes sense, of course,” Sowmya Venkatachalam ’24 said. “But it can kind of create an air of exclusivity, or just awkward situations regarding who can be invited and who kind of has to leave.”

Aimee Bostwick ’24 said that people will often sit in the lobbies of residence halls in an effort to meet new people, but “nobody really wants to go out anywhere.”

For some students, more in-person classes can mean more opportunities to make friends. Flavia Scott ’24 is taking three in-person courses, and said she hasn’t had much difficulty meeting people this semester because of these in-person classes. 

Bostwick, who took two in-person classes last semester and three this semester, agreed that it has been a great way of meeting other people. Bostwick said her professors have even used Zoom breakout rooms in her in-person classes to allow for socialization without the risk of having large congregations. 

Asher Lal ’24 studied remotely during the fall semester, but reached out to friends over Zoom classes and has been able to grab bubble tea and go on walks with friends in person this semester. But being on campus has increased Lal’s concern of contracting COVID-19.

Siegel agreed that his COVID concerns have also increased, citing the presence of variants in Tompkins County as a major source of his concerns, but he ultimately believes the COVID risks are around the same as last semester.

The students agreed the social scene has suffered this spring semester. Siegel noted that last semester made it easy to gather on the Arts Quad through the night, but now weekday nights are quieter. Scott explained that the social scene is also different because “there isn’t as much to do.” 

“It’s harder to go to Collegetown because it’s so cold, and when cases are rising in Tompkins County, eating inside restaurants isn’t super ideal,” Scott said.