March 9: Student Experience Update

Dear Students, 

As we continue with classes in Module C, I write to provide an update on our campus-wide efforts to improve the student experience while also maintaining our commitment to sound public health practices. Students, faculty, and staff are working collaboratively to develop and adapt creative programming for students across a wide range of interests. 

We all wish that we could flip a switch and return to pre-pandemic ways of doing things. Unfortunately, this is not a safe or possible strategy, particularly on a residential campus, when COVID-19 transmission rates remain higher than they were in the fall, and we still face the challenge of new and highly transmissible variants of the virus.

At the same time, as more and more people get vaccinated and the weather begins to allow more activities to move outside, we are committed to finding safe ways to bring more elements of the student experience back in person, structured in ways that will keep us healthy and safe. This message describes ongoing and new efforts in the following areas:

Dining

We continue to make strides in improving the student dining experience while observing Maine’s public health regulations. Today starts a brief warm stretch of weather, with more on the horizon, making possible more comfortable outside dining, physically distanced with friends. In the meantime, we continue to expand our dining offerings.

Meet Me @ the Mezz

“Meet Me @ the Mezz” provides a communal dining experience in Commons Mezzanine. We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to eat with friends, classmates, floormates, and teammates in this “mini Commons” experience.

Through a first-come, first-served registration system in Garnet Gateway with specific dining guidelines, “Meet Me @ the Mezz” will be available Monday through Friday during dinner and, starting on Monday, March 15, for lunch.

The Den is open for delivery and pick-up service

The Den is now open for delivery and pick-up service on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. with a menu featuring student favorites.

Adventures in Dining

Providing culinary experiences to students outside the regular menu cycle, Adventures in Dining is again being offered as part of the dining program. Coming Adventures include Student Food Art Competition, Recipes from Home, an Earth Day Celebration, and Last Day Lemonade. 

More outdoor furniture coming

As the snow melts, we will add additional bistro tables and chairs across campus and augment the Library Arcade with more high-top tables and chairs to improve the outdoor dining experience.

Campus Life Programs

We hope that you enjoyed Winter Carnival events and programming brought to you by Campus Activities and Traditions (CAT) and the Bates Outing Club. It was fantastic to see so many students ice skating on the Puddle, skiing and snow tubing at Lost Valley, and shopping for student art and swag at the first-ever Winter Market.

CAT hosts events every weekend throughout the semester, including March Madness Trivia, virtual escape rooms, a pottery night, and more. Students can find more details and links to sign up for events on the CAT Instagram and at www.linktr.ee/batescat.

Village Club Series

The Village Club Series (VCS) hosts weekly concerts at 9 p.m. each Thursday. Watch them online, or join other students in Ben Mays to watch together on the big screen! 

First-Year Fridays

A new event series, First-Year Fridays helps the members of the Class of 2024 get to know one another while following public health protocols. Events happen every Friday this semester and are hosted by a different club each week.

Skiing at Lost Valley

Students also have an institutional membership to Lost Valley, a beginner-friendly ski mountain located only 15 minutes from campus in Auburn, Maine. All Bates students ski at no cost. Just bring your Bates ID to the ticket counter for a free lift ticket. 

You can reserve a spot for a free shuttle to Lost Valley. Buses depart from the Campus Avenue side of Chase Hall at 9:30 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays. They leave Lost Valley at 1:15 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and 8:15 p.m. Wednesdays. All students must reserve a spot in advance.

Free rentals are also available on campus through the Bates Outing Club’s Equipment Room. The E-room is open Mondays and Thursdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is located at the loading dock of Chase Hall, on the side of the building closest to Muskie Archives. If the E-room is unable to fill your rental needs, and there is a financial barrier to renting equipment on your own, Campus Life may be able to help

Late at Bates

Campus Life also offers support for student-led programming through its Late at Bates program. Late at Bates is designed to support student-led evening and late-night events and programs that strengthen our sense of community and campus culture. Any individual student, student club, or student organization may apply for this funding. 

The Arts

Theater and dance productions

The theater and dance departments are celebrating creative performance work in a variety of ways this semester. From senior theses to first-year student pieces, more than 60 theater and dance students are immersed in creative processes that they are excited to share safely with live audiences. 

A range of productions will be offered in the theaters in Pettigrew/Schaeffer and in yet-to-be-determined indoor and outdoor venues around campus. In addition to having limited live audiences, these performances will be livestreamed. Be on the lookout in Bates Today for more details in the future.

The Bates Museum of Art

The Museum of Art remains open to all students, faculty, and staff. Among the museum’s coming exhibitions is the senior thesis exhibition on Friday, May 7. The inspiring Let’s Celebrate Ashley Bryan! exhibition continues through March 20. 

Spring Varsity Athletics

While adapting to public health protocols, our teams have been able to practice and train throughout the year, and today the NESCAC presidents announced that the conference will proceed with a limited schedule of conference competition for spring sports. 

To protect the wellbeing of students, faculty, staff, and broader communities, spring competition will follow comprehensive health and safety protocols developed by NESCAC athletic directors, in consultation with medical personnel and other experts.

Schedules for individual sports have yet to be finalized, but we expect to learn more specifics about spring conference play in the next couple of weeks, with NESCAC competition expected to begin in early to mid-April and proceed for approximately four to five weeks. 

Student-athletes and team personnel will continue to follow college health protocols, observe state guidelines, wear masks, and remain physically distanced wherever possible in order to avoid developing close contacts. All transportation will be de-densified and ventilated, and there will only be same-day travel within New England. Student-athletes who compete outside will not enter buildings or locker facilities during visits to other campuses, with the exception of using a restroom.

All institutions participating in NESCAC spring competition have comprehensive testing protocols for all students on campus. Additionally, any participating school will require a COVID-19 antigen screen for student-athletes on the day of competition. This will keep NESCAC competition aligned with best practices set forth by the NCAA chief medical officer and NCAA COVID-19 Response Team.

The NESCAC guidelines specify that spectators for the spring athletic contests will be limited to individuals who are part of the host institution’s testing protocol. Because we will not be able to welcome outside visitors to campus to watch competitions in person, we will provide live streaming so that parents and families may enjoy viewing the action from home.

Recreation

The Department of Athletics continues to offer all students a variety of recreational and fitness activities in Merrill Gymnasium, including the fitness center, cardio room, open swim in Tarbell Pool, virtual fitness classes, and use of the indoor track and tennis courts. 

More recreational opportunities will be added over the next couple of weeks, including open recreational basketball in Alumni Gymnasium and in-person group fitness classes such as cycle and yoga. In partnership with the Bates Outing Club, the climbing wall in Merrill Gymnasium will also reopen for student use. Students may register for these activities through the online IMLeagues portal

Looking ahead to spring, we are planning to offer a variety of outdoor fitness programming, including outdoor group fitness classes, use of the Fitness Park, and the Bobcat Fitness Trail.

Outdoor Programs

After a jam-packed Winter Carnival, the Bates Outing Club is excited to shift focus to new programming for the rest of the spring. Student leaders are working hard to plan trips and activities on campus and in the surrounding area to get students outside and make new connections. Keep an eye out in Bates Today for announcements about trips, or join the BOC listserv

Intercultural Education Programs

Friday movie nights

The Office of Intercultural Education (OIE) offers a Friday Film Fest every Friday this semester at 7 p.m., with in-person showings currently planned to occur in Chase Hall Lounge (Room 111). Follow @batesoie on Instagram and join our listserv to make sure you’re the first to know what film will be screened each week. 

Drop-in space

The OIE is now open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. If you need to consult a member of the professional staff about resources or questions, we encourage you to visit before 5 p.m. on weekdays. 

Using the space

Student clubs and organizations are welcome to reserve OIE space for meetings and programs via the Event Management System. The OIE is usually available from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. 

Events that occur in the OIE must align with our public health protocols and the OIE’s mission..

Study hall

Every Monday, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., the OIE will host a Virtual Study Space on Zoom. The link is available via the OIE listserv. Interested students are invited to stop by, stay as long as you wish, and leave whenever you like. During that block, OIE staff will be available for private chats for students who might have questions.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to OIE staff if the team can be of support this semester.

Global Education Programs

International Dinner

The annual International Dinner is back on a remote basis this year. On Saturday, March 13, students will convene online and unbox their international snacks and treats together. You will find more information in Bates Today or the Center for Global Education events calendar

Discussions with international alumni

These discussions provide insights on life and jobs after college for international students. Bates graduates who live and work around the world will share thoughts on the transition from Bates to the world of work. Details about these programs will be available through the International Club listserv, Bates Today, and the Center for Global Education events calendar.

Maine tours

Often referred to as “Three Hour Tours,” these physically distanced bus tours give international students a chance to see popular Maine sites from Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor to the mountains of western Maine. 

Students can get more information on these and other activities by contacting Associate Dean for International Student ProgramsJames Reese at jreese@bates.edu.

Residential Community Programs

This year, following public health best practices and state guidelines, the Residence Life staff moved away from large group programs, working to facilitate more one-on-one, small group, and virtual engagement opportunities. While wet and chilly weather can be a barrier to outdoor gatherings, our First-Year Centers and other living areas have found new and creative ways of connecting with each other in recent weeks. 

This semester, programs have included game nights in common rooms, late-night lawn games, ping pong tournaments, movie nights, video game tournaments, and art-making. 

Students may still gather informally with friends in residence hall common rooms as long as everyone is wearing a face covering and there are not more than 10 people in the common room. Students may also eat in residence hall common rooms but must maintain physical distancing while eating. 

First-year students and other residents with ideas for programming can always reach out to their JAs and RCs with ideas or requests. The Residence Life team will continue to be creative and dedicate funding to help students foster new relationships, build community, and stay connected. 

Where to Direct Questions

If you have any questions and are not sure with whom you should be in touch, please send your inquiry to studentaffairs@bates.edu, and we will be sure to connect you to the person best situated to assist you.

The COVID experience has been challenging for everyone on campus, and we are working hard to create structures that will allow us to expand activities that are safe for all students. We very much hope that you begin to feel the difference on campus, and we count on you to maintain the public health practices that will allow us to make this effort a success. 

Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation.

All my best,

Joshua McIntosh
Vice President for Campus Life