Safe socializing faces a new challenge: Minnesota winter

Winter came early this year, and Hamline’s student leaders are doing their best to find ways to keep the community connected.


Audra Grigus, Junior News Editor

Large, indoor gatherings are out of the question while in a pandemic, but as winter arrives, Hamline University students are left to wonder if they will be socially isolated all season. 

Student leaders at Hamline have been tasked to think critically about how to plan engaging and meaningful programming for students while also taking safety and the abrupt weather change into account. Finding variety in a virtual world has proven challenging. 

For sophomore and Resident Assistant (RA) Jazmin Clausen-Thomas, all her events have been virtual this semester. 

“The fact is most of my residents have all their classes online. They probably don’t want to go to another virtual event,” Clausen-Thomas said. “Plus, it’s super awkward because they don’t know different residents yet either, so they’re just in a sticky situation.” 

As indoor events pose safety concerns, Hamline University Programming Board (HUPB) has found other ways to allocate their funds to benefit students and the larger community. With HUPB funds, students from Hamline Outdoor Recreation Club (HORC) put together car care-packages for students to give to those asking for money and experiencing homelessness. 

“Some of those big, fun, entertaining events just aren’t as important right now as some students and people in our community not having food on their table,” said junior and HUPB collaborations programmer, Emma Harrington. “For people that are unhoused, it gets dangerous to be outside like that in the winter.” 

When considering the well being of students, another main concern is mental health. 

“As we get less daylight, and there’s less time to spend outside, mental health is probably the biggest thing that I’m thinking about right now for myself and for everyone else,” Harrington said. 

Student leaders across campus can connect in their worries about mental health. 

“Being isolated in my room makes my mental health plummet,” Clausen-Thomas said. “As an RA, I am worried about the same thing for my residents.” 

 One of the only consistent reasons that students must leave their dorm is to eat meals at Bishop’s Bistro in Anderson Center.  

“I don’t really enjoy going to Anderson. There’s just a lot of people there and it’s a chokepoint for everyone on campus,” sophomore Doug Voigts said. “The fact that there’s so many people there without their masks on while they’re eating, while they’re talking, it’s just anxiety provoking.” 

Voigts only eats at Anderson three or four times a week. 

“I typically find whatever excuse I can to not go to Anderson and the weather is just going to give me a new one,” Voigts said. 

Voigts is considering moving off campus this winter due to mental health and social benefits. 

 “I’d like to have my own space off campus and have that be a space that I can potentially engage with people at,” Voigts said. “I want to safely invite friends over, friends that live in other dorms since we can’t go and visit other people’s dorms. And the weather –  Minnesota winters –  makes it so we can’t really go and see each other outside.” 

As the pandemic presses on and is thought to get worse as the winter continues, Hamline students will continue to do most of their social interaction virtually for now. 

“No one knows what the future holds,” Clausen-Thomas said.