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‘Back in Business’: Students Return to In-Person Social Events

Chloe Frabotta is having a pretty typical sophomore year. She lives on CoRo and has a busy schedule full of in-person activities and events. But in comparison to her first year at Boston College, college life feels anything but normal. 

“I feel like a second-year freshman, because, like [the current freshmen] are experiencing [BC] for the first time, but so are all the sophomores,” Frabotta, MCAS ’24, said.

Last year, Frabotta was a freshman living on Newton Campus and attending classes mostly online. While she enjoyed Newton’s tight-knit community, she loves living on Main Campus now and has been surprised by how many people she sees.

“[There’s] definitely so many people on campus, like, I didn’t realize how many people go to this school,” Frabotta said. “I also see people [I know], like, I’ll walk somewhere and I’ll see five people, where last year I felt like I was a little bit more anonymous—this year, anonymity is gone. You have to be prepared to see multiple people when you leave your room.”

After a year of mostly virtual classes and club meetings, traditions put on hold, and capacity restrictions that kept students isolated, BC—which is over 99 percent fully vaccinated—is embracing in-person events once again.

The University’s mask mandate and capacity restrictions during the 2020–21 school year were intended to keep students, faculty, and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. But students said they felt that the restrictions also left them with few opportunities to connect with their friends or enjoy any sort of social life. 

SJ Naim, MCAS ’23, said she found the administration’s capacity restrictions fairly oppressive, but understood that she needed to follow them to keep the larger community safe. Living on CoRo last year, Naim’s in-person social interactions were largely limited to passing moments in her dorm.

“My roommate and I are best friends, and all my other really, really close friends were on my floor, so I would like run into them in the bathrooms, in the hallways,” Naim said. “But had that not been the case, I would have had a really difficult year.”

As a freshman, Frabotta took advantage of online club meetings, where she said she met some of her good friends. She said having club meetings over Zoom actually encouraged her to join more clubs because she didn’t have a lot else to do, but she’s looking forward to in-person events this year. 

Frabotta is involved in the Boston College Musical Theatre Wing, Sea Eagles of Boston College, Women in Stem, and she plays intramural softball. She said she played softball for about 10 or 12 years and loves that she has the opportunity to be a part of a team again.

“[Intramural softball] is very fun!” Frabotta said. “Last year [we] had to wear masks, but this year I think seeing people’s full face when they’re playing sports makes it 10 times funner.”

Naim also attended an in-person meeting for Sea Eagles of Boston College her first week back and is considering getting involved again with other organizations she’d been a member of in the past. 

Aside from club events, students are also enjoying taking part in classic BC traditions, some for the first time. 

“I am looking forward to so much,” Frabotta said. “First of all, more football games. I’ve never been to a BC football game, but when I walked in, there were so many people. I was sitting right next to the band, the band was playing “good 4 u.” [By] being in the football stadium, I really did feel like a BC student.”

Frabotta said she was also looking forward to hockey games, ALC Showdown, and, of course, Marathon Monday. 

The Campus Activities Board (CAB) is also planning in-person events this year. One of the major annual events is Stokes Set, an annual concert on campus that took place last Saturday, which Molly Denning, MCAS ’24 and CAB assistant director for live entertainment and marketing, helped coordinate.

“Last year [CAB] had to really think outside of the box to get events that were fun and COVID safe off the ground,” Denning said in a written statement to The Heights. “But this year we can go straight to the fun classics and try out new ideas we couldn’t last year! Especially as a sophomore [who has] never seen CAB in full swing, it’s crazy all the in-person events we do between all the departments of CAB.”

Along with Stokes Set, Denning said that BC students can look forward to more in-person events as the semester goes on. 

“CAB is fully back in business!” she said.

Though in-person events at BC are in full swing, some students are still a bit worried about coming into close contact with so many people, usually unmasked.

“There’s so much more going on [this year], which is amazing,” Naim said. “However, there’s such a huge personal stress I feel with my social impact regarding COVID and wanting to make sure I have the right balance between personal responsibilities to my friends that I owe, and also [my] social responsibility and being safe about COVID in general. The vaccine helps a lot. It really takes a weight off my shoulders, but I am fully aware that it doesn’t 100 percent protect me from not getting COVID.”

Naim is living off campus this year and feels more confident hosting small gatherings with just her roommates and friends. 

“There’s a lot more freedom socially and regarding COVID, because the [people] that come into my house, I know where they’ve been, I know who they’ve interacted with—they’re my roommates,” she said. 

Even still, it’s all about walking the line between growing friendships at in-person events and keeping the BC community healthy, Naim said. 

“There’s a lot of potential this year, especially with all the games coming back, and all of the activities like Stokes Set and stuff like that,” Naim said. “So, I’m very excited, but with that comes a little bit of wariness … I put on my mask for long classes, where I’m in close spaces in the library. [I’m] just trying to do my due diligence, and keep myself and others safe.”

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

September 23, 2021