College adds heaters, walls to tents for outdoor dining

Annie Lu, Executive Editor for News

Students frequently share meals under the tent outside Paresky, which has now been equipped with heaters. (Sophie Throop/The Williams Record.)

On sunny days, students can be seen sprawled across Paresky lawn and Currier Quad, sharing socially distanced outdoor meals together. As the temperature begins to drop, however, these spontaneous mealtime gatherings may be harder and harder to find. The College had put up tents for both outdoor dining and the testing center before the start of the fall semester, but in recent weeks it has installed additional walls and heaters to provide comfort during colder weather.

According to Director of Catering Jeanette Kopczynski, the tents in Paresky and Berkshire Quads will remain up for “student dining and gathering” until Nov. 23. These tents have all been equipped with walls and heaters, though exits will be left open at all times for air flow ventilation. 

Three walls were installed as a part of the initial tents, though the fourth side was added along with the heaters in order to hold in some of the heat, according to Kopczynski. “Knowing weather in the Berkshires is unpredictable, we wanted to have something in place for easy use if the weather was inclement,” she said. “The heaters have a flat blower that sits just under the tent side and the rest of the heater remains on the outside of the tent.”

The sides on all of the tents, except the one by Paresky, are rolled up and can be let down when in use. The Paresky tent sides slide on tracks to open and close instead of being rolled down. 

The athletics tents at Weston Field, including the strength and conditioning tent, the sports medicine tent and the physical education tent, will remain until Nov. 20, but only the strength and conditioning tent will have heat.

Kopczynski said that each heat-equipped tent in the quads contains two heaters, each of which cost the College $1,245. This is in addition to the approximately $200,000 the College spent on providing the tents themselves, including the COVID testing center. 

Some tents will be removed much sooner, by Oct. 23. This includes tents available for reservations for classes near Horn Hall, Frosh Quad and Morgan Hall, as well as the Oakley Center tent.

The College will not be adding any additional tents to those already in place, Kopczynski said. Some of the initial tents, such as the Cole Field House check-in tents and luggage tents present during move-in, have already been taken down.

“Based on the beautiful weather we’ve had so far, I’m hopeful that it will continue for the remaining month that we are on campus,” Kopczynski said.