Students Affairs and SLCE to implement fire pits in Res Quad in student engagement effort


Thomas Caputo

Photo of the Utica College lawn.

Thomas Caputo, Staff Writer

Fire pits will soon be a new feature in the residential quad. In an effort to keep students engaged and outdoors, these fire pits will let students interact in a safe environment, according to Jeffrey Gates, senior vice president for Student Life and Enrollment Management.

While COVID-19 restrictions have changed how students interact with each other on campus, the fire pits will offer a way for students to interact in a safe environment and enjoy the college experience.

“In the coming days, we will be installing gas fire pits on the residential quad,” Gates said in a recent letter sent to students. “Our hope is that these will facilitate opportunities to safely socialize outdoors later in the season as the weather gets colder.”

The fire pits will be monitored by staff, making sure students are both staying safe around the fire as well as socially distanced.

“Student Affairs and more specifically SLCE has been working hard to find ways for our students to safely interact socially,” said Scott Nonemaker, interim dean of students. “One of the safest ways is to have students interact outdoors. We have some days in the winter when the sun is out, and the air isn’t obscenely cold, so the pits may offer some comfort and social time outdoors even in February. It’s important to me that we offer opportunities for our students to interact and try to have as much of the college experience as they can.”

Vannthakhan Pin, a sophomore, said the fire pits are something she might consider utilizing once they arrive.

“I feel like this semester, especially with COVID, is like strictly school and strictly just going to classes, so I feel like that’s going to be a good investment for people to interact with other people other than just in a classroom,” Pin said.

Pin had also expressed that some of the upcoming announcements, like the fire pits coming to campus, are not being publicized enough for students to become aware of.

“I feel like they’re not doing the greatest message at trying to get everyone involved, so I feel like they need to send the message a lot more than they are right now,” Pin said.

Musco Millner, director of Campus Safety, said even around the fire pits, COVID-19 restrictions will still be in place and students will be expected to follow campus safety rules. Millner and Campus Safety would also like to remind all planners and attendees to keep any chairs away from the fire, and to mask up when you are within six feet of others.