As Cornell’s 2022-23 academic year enters its final weeks and spring flowers begin to bloom, Cornell’s quads are once again being transformed into lunch and study spots with the addition of tents.
This past fall, Cornell’s Office of Student and Campus Life — in addition to academic departments — set up tents with tables and chairs on the arts and ILR quads, some of which included amenities such as floors and lighting. The tents were erected as part of an effort to encourage social distancing and limit the spread of COVID-19 among students while still offering comfortable locations for group studying.
During the fall semester, Nick Wilsey ’25 spent his time between classes in the tents and met up with his project team once a week to work outside.
“These tents provide a great place to go to whenever we really want to soak up the sun but also have a convenient place to do our work from,” Wilsey said.
Heading into finals season, tents provide the wellness benefits of time spent outside. Having access to nature has numerous mental health advantages such as diminished risk of depression and faster recovery from psychological stress. It also increases concentration and attention and incentivizes students to spend time outside of their dorms.
“Natural outdoor environments in these spaces are more interesting and really entice me to go somewhere other than my dorm to study,” Savanah Chiodi ’25 said.
Chiodi also said that the tents have increased her motivation through the unique aspects of spending time on the quads, like people watching and feeling the breeze.
Students are especially excited to use the tents after the winter kept them inside.
“My first winter in Ithaca has been full of snow and warming up inside my dorm — I am excited to bike over to the tents within these last weeks and study outside on campus in the warmth,” Mei Rao ’25 said.
As students begin to flock to the tents once more, the tents will also contribute to campus social life. Rhys Healy ’25 said he looks forward to seeing friends under the canopies.
“It will be nice to interact with my friends and other people when we can grab food from Okenshields, walk over [to the tents], and enjoy a meal together outside,” Healy said.
Whether they plan to use the tents to study or socialize, students like Azra Twombly Ellis ’25 said they’re looking forward to getting out into the open air despite their busy schedules, and once more seeing the sun.
“I think that the tents returning to the quads is a very cool thing because sitting indoors all the time can become boring and dark,” Twombly Ellis said. “Whenever I get out in the light, it really boosts my mood and creativity.”