Trinity College students have participated in lots of in-person and virtual events and co-curricular activities outside of the classroom this spring.
Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management Joe DiChristina said significant efforts across campus have made it possible for students to safely enjoy these activities during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Being able to see students gather on the Quad, be a part of choir practice, go on hikes, and enjoy athletics has been wonderful to observe,” said DiChristina. “By following all the appropriate health and safety guidelines, we have been able to limit the transmission of the virus in these settings.”
When the campus is at its “Green” campus alert level, activities are permitted according to the guidelines of each space, with all participants wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. DiChristina added, “Students have been excellent at being attentive to best practices. It is clear that students thrive in these settings, and I am so glad we were able to offer more experiences this spring.”
Below are some highlights of student activities from the spring 2021 semester.
All varsity teams—spring, plus fall and winter—returned to practice this spring; competition began March 19, with a priority given to the spring sports that missed last season as well.
Director of Athletics Drew Galbraith said, “The return to play effort is the culmination of countless hours of work on the part of our coaches and staff, as well as numerous sacrifices by our student athletes. These types of activities, whether they are an organized varsity or club sport, or a recreational pursuit, are a reflection of our ability as a community to find productive ways forward at what we hope is the tail end of the pandemic.”
Fall and winter teams were also allowed to compete, but in a limited number of weekends. “Because of the complications involved in certain sports, football and wrestling will not be competing at all, and swimming and diving will compete in virtual meets only,” said Galbraith. While outside spectators are not allowed at home contests, all home competitions are streamed online, with a weekly schedule posted on BantamSports.com.
“To see the Bantam family come together safely and create these opportunities is amazing. For our students, the benefits are countless, from the mental health benefits of physical and group activities, to teaching and learning that takes place in our teams, to the fellowship and growth that these settings allow,” said Galbraith. “And for our coaches and staff, seeing students engage in one of their greatest passions makes the extra hours all worth it.”
Austin Arts Center
This spring, the musical Urinetown, put on by a talented all-female cast, was performed virtually through the Austin Arts Center. Guest Director in Music Nina Pinchin, who is associate director of education at Hartford Stage, said the musical is set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia where water is in such short supply that it has become a “privilege to pee.”
Pinchin said that making a musical production in a time when people cannot gather together was challenging. At the same time, she said they wanted to put together a project that would speak to the moment. “We wanted to create a project where COVID-19 protocols like mask-wearing could be integrated seamlessly into the reality of the play,” said Pinchin. “We settled on Urinetown in part because it touches on so much of the socio/political climate of the moment and also because it is satirical comedy, which makes it funny.” Urinetown was streamed online from April 28 through May 1.
Other Austin Arts events this spring included “Everybody Is An Artist: An Interactive Event,” which looked at self-expression and the creative impulse with Janis Brenner; “Interfacing: Performance and Practice,” a live virtual dance performance by Marielis Garcia and a conversation with Trinity Assistant Professor of Theater and Dance Peter Kyle; and “Performing Hartford,” a Community Learning course and virtual performance series that highlights the diversity of artistic practice in Hartford created collaboratively with Trinity alumna Jasmin Agosto ’10 of SageSeeker Productions, which took place via Facebook Live.
Cinestudio and Trinity Film Festival
John Michael Mason ’12, M’14, chair of the Board of Directors at Cinestudio, founder and director of Trinity Film Festival, and head coach of Trinity track & field, said that Cinestudio opened to the public for limited in-person viewing in the summer and continues to show films every weekend.
“Since the theater is so large, we are well under the guidance from Connecticut in terms of seats available,” said Mason. “There is a clear traffic flow in and out of the theater, plexiglass in the lobby, and masks are required at all times.” Mason added that Academy Award-nominated films were playing at Cinestudio throughout the spring semester.
Additionally, Trinity Film Festival planned a virtual-hybrid experience this spring. The campus community could view the short films in Cinestudio, and the films are available for online viewing through May 6, with a live-streaming awards ceremony May 8. Mason said, “It is so easy to access visual media content these days; however, it is a profoundly different, and more special experience, to see a film in a movie theater in a space with a big screen and others around, even if far apart from one another. The collective energy of the shared experience enhances the movie-going journey.”
Community Service and Civic Engagement
The Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement has helped run numerous events and is working with student groups across campus to maintain valuable volunteer opportunities.
Director of Community Service and Civic Engagement Joe Barber said, “It is important for us to continue our participation in service and engagement because although we are in a pandemic, our commitment to the community should not be put on hold.” He added, “We are trying to find ways to keep students connected to each other and connected to the work they want to do in the community.”
One way the office has remained involved is through putting together backpacks of food for Hands on Hartford. “Since October, we have been shopping for food, filling 25 backpacks per week, and delivering the backpacks to students who are food insecure in Hartford,” said Barber.
Many groups have been meeting virtually to keep students involved in their causes and to stay engaged in improving the campus community. Amnesty International meets virtually every week for discussion and posts frequently on social media to give voice to current human rights issues. Green Campus has reinstated its Crescent Street composting program and has created EcoPacks for students that include a reusable fork, knife, spoon, chopsticks, a metal straw, and straw-cleaner in order to reduce waste. The Annual Community Event Staff (ACES) has been working on a project for the Chrysalis Center, which helps community members who are transitioning from homelessness, by creating craft kits for kids. In addition, The Coop, Trinity College’s thrift shop, is open 10 hours a week in the Jackson Hall location and four hours a week in the Mather Hall basement location. All profits are donated to local nonprofits as determined by the Coop staff.
Kathryn Wojcik, Trinity’s director of campus life initiatives and social houses, said that Greek Life held a successful virtual recruitment in February, recruiting 160 students. She added that chapters have been looking for ways to participate in philanthropy events safely.
“The Panhellenic Council—our sorority council—held a Women’s History Month fundraiser and raised over $1,200 for the Interval House,” said Wojcik. “Chapters are also participating in a virtual TrinTHON, which is a Miracle Network Dance Marathon that raises funds for kids being treated for pediatric illness and injury at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.”
“Finding ways for our organization members to engage safely in events has become important throughout the pandemic,” said Wojcik. “We not only want to keep up on our philanthropic efforts, but we also want to find ways for members to continue to build meaningful relationships within their chapters and develop into strong leaders in the safest ways possible.”
Director of Recreation and Quest Kevin Johnson got many events up and moving this spring. Every Friday at 5:00 p.m., Eleanor Faraguna ’21 leads an all-level yoga practice virtually via Zoom. On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m., Bailey Cook ’21 instructs Trin-cycle classes in the Koeppel Center. To find the yoga class Zoom link or sign up for Trin-cycle, click here. In addition, some club sports, like rock climbing and boxing, were able to go to off-campus facilities in the community that allow for the Trinity group to be alone in the facility. Johnson noted that Trinity also is competing virtually for the highest number of fitness minutes among participating schools in the Recreation Movement Program.
Earlier this semester, Recreation led outdoor trips to locations within Hartford County, taking up to 25 students off campus each week. Johnson said, “There is documented research that suggests outdoor experiences benefits both mental and physical well-being, and as a program, we know that these outdoor trips promote a sense of belonging at our institution.”
All registration links to recreation classes and the fitness center can be found here.
Student Activities, Involvement, & Leadership (S.A.I.L)
S.A.I.L has been offering recurring in-person and virtual events all spring. Romulus Perez, assistant director of S.A.I.L., said, “Providing a slew of activity choices for the students has proven to be vital, especially during these times of restrictions and isolation. Enrichments of healthy and fun activities and events for students result in varying the lives of the students. They also square our sense of satisfaction as administrators.”
In addition to hosting take-away craft projects and online activities, S.A.I.L. continued to offer popular recurring virtual events. Thursday Trivia occurred every other Thursday via Zoom and participants had the chance to win $25 gift cards; virtual Banto Bingo offered students a chance to receive fun prizes; Trivioke, a trivia and karaoke combination, was set to a theme, and winners of each round got to play and sing; and virtual escape rooms allowed students to participate from their own rooms.
As a special treat, the Student Government Association hosted a “Food Truck Fest Friday” on April 23, when food trucks were parked around campus at lunchtime.
Spiritual and Religious Life
Spiritual and Religious Life student leader Macie Bridge ’21 said, “SRL is continuing to offer tons of virtual events this semester.” She added, “Finding spiritual fulfillment is so important at all times, but especially now when things do not feel normal. It is such a blessing to be able to connect for worship and conversation virtually.”
Buddhist Life: Associate Chaplain for Buddhist Life Garret Condon leads the Trinity Zen Group in weekly Zen Buddhist meditations. The Monday meditations take place via Zoom and include chanting beginning at 7:00 p.m.; meditation around 7:10 p.m.; and Dharma talk, reading, and discussion to follow.
“Community is so important in Buddhism. People may think of meditation as a solitary activity, but in Zen Buddhism, meditation isn’t just for individual calm, but to center our minds so that we can bring wisdom to our world,” said Condon. “We strongly encourage people to balance individual meditation with group practice. It’s all the more important during this difficult time of isolation and uncertainty.”
Christian Life: Episcopal tradition services led by the Rev. Rebekah Hatch, interim Episcopal chaplain, are offered virtually via Zoom and in-person on Sundays at 12:30 p.m.
Roman Catholic Mass, led by John Campbell, associate chaplain for Roman Catholic life, and Father Matt Gworek, Roman Catholic priest associate, is held virtually and in person on Sunday evenings at 5:00 p.m.
Faith Inspired Students at Trinity (FIST) virtual prayer group takes place every Monday at 8:00 a.m. FIST is a group of non-denominational Christians who grow together through prayer, Bible study, worship, and fellowship.
Jewish Life: Throughout the spring semester, Hillel continues to offer both on-site and online programs and opportunities for students. Students and staff gather each Friday evening on Zoom for a hybrid Shabbat experience that includes conversation, music and prayer, and dinner. Students either pick up a catered “Shabbox” kosher meal to enjoy at Hillel with others, socially distanced, or in their rooms. Hillel Director Lisa Kassow said, “This has proven to be a welcome chance to catch up with students and maintain the warm sense of camaraderie around the Shabbat table that many in our community treasure.”
In addition to coordinating a kosher for Passover meal plan and small “Passover Pod” dinner parties, Hillel sponsored “Leading Ladies: A Hillel Alumnae Panel” via Zoom; Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah, was observed on the evening of April 6; and Hillel partnered with Trinity’s Language and Culture Studies Department to sponsor “Text and the City: A Hebrew Lecture Through the Walls of Tel Aviv” on April 7.
Muslim Life: Maryam Bitar ’16, program director of Muslim Life, said, “We’ve been focusing on advocating and accommodating students’ needs to help them balance academic achievements and educational journeys while fulfilling their religious and spiritual lives and obligations.” To do so, Friday Jumma’h services are offered weekly on 76H Crescent Street by a prominent community Imam. In addition, Trinity departments are working to support physical and mental health needs for Muslim students during Ramadan.
For details on upcoming events and programs for students, visit the Campus Calendar.