The University of New Hampshire (UNH) has decided to postpone fall season sports and cancel Homecoming. These changes are among many that students have had to endure in their fall semester due to new guidelines and rules because of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Since this announcement, students have had to look for new ways to stay involved on campus.
In an email sent by President James Dean and Athletic Director Marty Scarano to UNH students on July 17, it was divulged that fall sports would be postponed and homecoming and family weekends in October would not be held.
In an effort to maintain the health and safety of the campus community, Homecoming was cancelled and fall sports were postponed as its students and staff are transitioning to be safely on campus amid the coronavirus pandemic.
When asking students their opinions, they agreed with the decisions but were still saddened by sports postponements and the loss of the campus event that was to take place this October.
“Sports brought people together and without that, you feel like something is missing in daily campus life. I feel bad for first-year students who won’t get to experience tailgating and student athletes that don’t get to play because it’s a big part of their identities.” The postponement of sports and cancellation of Homecoming “affects so many people, seniors who are graduating, freshmen, transfer students, and student athletes,” said Stephanie Santiago, a junior at UNH. “I understand it would be a conflict of interest with COVID going on and thinking back on Homecoming it’s massive groups of people with no distance, so I get it,” Santiago said.
Santiago, who also works as a residential assistant in the Upper Quad said, “I feel like the lack of sports games puts more pressure on res[sic] life to host events that people want to come to while still maintaining COVID guidelines.” Santiago has been working to put together floor activities in her residential hall that will engage students and also help “in making connections for freshmen and other students so they feel connected with the community.”
Jordan Conn, a junior at UNH on the football team said he was actually prepared when they postponed the fall season. He also said, “I do agree with the [postponement] of fall sports. I think attempting to play a spring season is a good idea (if it is deemed safe to do so) and I think us playing would only contribute to the spread of the virus.”
Speaking on the possibility of a competing season in the spring for fall sports, the Why Postpone Fall FAQs on the UNH Athletics page states “there are many factors that will go into studying the feasibility of a competition structure [for the spring]. While we will need to be patient as conditions related to the pandemic evolve, we must not waste time in this regard and will immediately identify a working group to begin researching and formulating options.”
Though sports seasons have been postponed and sporting events have been cancelled, there are still campus events students can attend to stay involved and social.
One of the best ways for students to find virtual and non-virtual events to attend is by looking at the UNH Master Calendar. According to the calendar there are many events students can attend daily which they may not have seen advertised around campus.
For example, on October 6 lawn games will be set up on Scott Hall Lawn, also known as the Fishbowl, for students and the UNH community. The games will be in the Fishbowl from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and they are going to be held every Tuesday.
The best way for students to hear about hall socials is to check their emails, follow their hall on social media, and to look at flyers around the building, according to Santiago. For example, the Upper Quad has an Instagram page where they share events happening in the hall with residents such as lawn games and “floor wars” where residents are encouraged to meet new people while safely playing games. Flyers around the building also advertise hall socials such as movie nights.
Pinar Gokalp, a senior at UNH, said the cancellation of Homecoming makes her “very sad.” Like many students, it’s her senior year and unfortunately the last chance she would have to attend the event as a student. She mentioned that the postponement of sports must also be hard for the athletes who still have to train. “Other than that though, it’s not the end of the world,” Gokalp said. “We’re more focused on other things and building smaller communities at this point because that’s all we can do,” Gokalp added.
While staying safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic has taken away community events such as sports games and Homecoming, students can still utilize hall socials, and other campus events to forge friendships and to not feel so isolated during these unprecedented times.