Outdoor ice skating rink to come to Dodd Circle this Winter Study

Ben Gips ’19 and other College Council members have been working to establish an outdoor ice skating rink in Dodd Circle this January. Emory Strawn/Photo editor.
Ben Gips ’19 and other College Council members have been working to establish an outdoor ice skating rink in Dodd Circle this January. Emory Strawn/Photo editor.

As the fall semester draws to a close, students look forward to Winter Study. For some, however, the additional free time is difficult to fill.

“Especially for freshmen, people get hyped up like ‘It’s the best time of the year,’ and then everyone arrives on Jan. 3 and looks around and they’re like, ‘What do we do now?’” College Council (CC) Vice President of Communications Michael Rubel ’19 said. For many students, especially those who don’t like to ski, the countless hours of free time that come with Winter Study can be difficult to fill.

Ben Gips ’19, CC’s vice president of student affairs, thought to establish “a sort of gathering place outdoors to create a unique draw for different parts of the community who may find that there’s not as much to do over Winter Study.” This idea will become the ice rink in Dodd Circle. Gips recalled the open skate nights that the figure-skating club had hosted in previous years and thought to expand that into a school-wide tradition.

“Those were always fun events — people would come and hang out, eat pizza and slide around on the ice,” he said. “You don’t really have to know how to skate to get out on the ice rink. With a ski hill, it’s a lot more intimidating, but with an ice rink, you can just go out there. We wanted to create something that was accessible to everybody and place where you could just come have fun.”

Gips and the rest of CC got to work making the dream of an ice rink a reality. They found a company called Nice Rink that sells all the necessary parts and was helpful in answering questions and giving advice to Gips and his team. As it stands, the plan is to have the whole rink set up in Dodd Circle when Winter Study begins. CC intends to remove the volleyball net that currently stands there, with the intention of replacing it when spring comes. From there, all there is left to do is hope for cold weather — if it stays below freezing, the rink will be open every day during Winter Study, staying open into the beginning of the spring semester (although not every day) until the weather becomes too warm.

CC is looking to fill a new Ice Management Committee and Ice Rink Manager position. “Already we’ve seen a great response,” Gips said, “especially for the manager role, which we’re calling ‘Obi-Wan Zamboni.’”

However, more support is still needed, especially for the committee members who will be in charge of maintenance, heading out at least one day a week to check on the ice and do some light shoveling and resurfacing. Gips is confident, however, that they should have no problem filling those positions, especially as the exact roles and expectations become more concrete. “We’ve just had so much general enthusiasm,” he said. In an effort to further encourage community involvement, CC decided to open up the naming of the rink to the entire community through a campus-wide email. Rubel noted that community response to this project has been very strong, with both serious names and goofy ones, like the “Ephraim Chilliams Memorial Ice Rink,” and the “Marc Gotlieb Ice Rink,” named after the  director of the art history graduate program. Students can still submit names through a link in Rubel’s email.

With almost all of the College’s student population turning over every four years, there’s always a concern that student-run projects will end when the students who were so passionate about them graduate. CC is aware of this issue, though, and has taken definitive steps to preserve the rink going forward.

One advantage, as Rubel notes, is that much of the current College Council executive board consists of underclassmen. Because Gips, Rubel and many others of the ice rink’s core proponents are sophomores, we can be sure that for at least the next few years, morale will remain high. Rubel’s hope is that, after a few years, “it’s not even a job — people just kind of expect, ‘Oh, the ice rink is going up now.’”

“When Goodrich was getting started, that was a similar concern,” Rubel said. “But the more people you get involved and excited about it, then the more it’ll just continue to happen.”

Gips has also managed to get support for the ice rink written directly into CC’s bylaws, meaning that coordinating the ice rink is now officially part of College Council’s job, ensuring that future generations will keep the ball rolling.

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