In January, Binghamton University began building an ice skating rink on the co-rec field in the Old Dickinson Community. With COVID-19 restrictions in place for students that returned to campus this spring semester, the ice rink will allow them a chance to gather safely and participate in a fun activity.

The ice rink will be on campus from Feb. 5 through March 17, and is open every day from noon until 8 p.m. Skating and renting skates is free for every BU student with their University ID. In order to protect the health and safety of students, the ice rink aims to ensure that COVID-19 guidelines are followed by only allowing 30 skaters at a time on the ice rink. In addition, all of the students must wear face masks while maintaining a distance of six feet apart.

Peter Nardone, general manager of the University Union, said discussion of an ice rink began in October, followed by extensive research and then construction in January.

“The ice rink will provide an opportunity for students to participate in an outdoor activity to allow for social distancing outside of the residence halls and other indoor locations during the winter months,” Nardone wrote. “This is a great opportunity for the campus to provide a unique experience for all students.”

The idea of building an ice rink came about by the University administration’s desire to provide a fun and safe winter activity for BU students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project was spearheaded by the University Union, a part of the division of student affairs and the physical facilities department.

“The University wanted to provide an outdoor opportunity for students to get together in a safe environment in lieu of the [COVID-19] pandemic,” Nardone wrote. “Due to the winter weather in Binghamton, students typically have most gatherings indoors. Since gatherings are limited, the ice rink provided a safe alternative … [The goal is] provide students with an outdoor programming venue during the winter months to engage socially and foster a safe environment that builds community with a unique experience. In terms of benefits, I would say the ice rink provides an opportunity to promote wellness and physical exercise during the winter months, and engages the student body in a unique way.”

The building of the ice rink had a very positive response from the student body at BU.

“It was really fun to go skating with a few of my friends and meet new people that I never would have met because of [COVID-19] restrictions on campus with the dorms,” Ciaran Donohoe, an undeclared freshman, said.

The rink also provides a chance to connect with new people at a time in which most in-person events are unable to happen.

“It was fun to go skating and meet new people,” Julie Kasday, a freshman majoring in mathematics, said. “The addition of the ice rink to campus is cool because it gives students a chance to do something new.”