Colgate University announced the upcoming opening of an outdoor ice rink on Whitnall Field in an email to the Colgate community on January 29. Coined “Gateskates,” Colgate’s official Facebook Page began posting social media teasers of the rink using the hashtag #gateskates during winter break. While the email announcing the rink said it was expected to open last weekend, Media Relations Director Daniel DeVries said the rink’s opening date is still pending as of February 3, depending on weather conditions.
Once up and running, the rink will be open Monday through Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, the rink will be open from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The rink will be free of charge to all members of the Colgate community. According to the announcement email, changing weather conditions may also impact the rink’s regularly scheduled open hours.
“Visitors should look for a Colgate flag and rink illumination as indicators of whether or not the ice is open for public skating. If the flag is down and most of the lights are out, the rink is closed,” the email said.
University President Brian Casey, who proposed the creation of the outdoor rink, said he felt inspired by Assistant Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education Anthony Jack, who spoke on campus last October in a lecture titled, “How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students.”
“[Jack] was talking about creating rituals and providing common spaces for everyone, and that really resonated. I kept thinking about that concept, and when the lights on Willow Path came down after the holidays, it just seemed appropriate to do something else to bring the community together,” Casey said.
Casey added that he prioritized the accessibility of the rink.
“It was also important to invest in some skate rentals to help make the rink accessible to people who have never skated before. We paid for those with a small endowment I have for student life,” Casey said.
According to DeVries, University facilities built and installed the structures for the rink on Whitnall, including a small warming house adjacent to the rink that houses the free rental skates available for use.
Sophomore Molly Hendrickson said that she is looking forward to taking advantage of the new rink installation.
“I’m excited to try a new activity that I’ve never had much exposure to before. I think it will be a good way to hangout with people while also learning new things in a very inclusive setting,” Hendrickson said.
However, some students are not as optimistic and have expressed some doubts regarding the outdoor rink. Sophomore Sydney Schweber said she sees potential downfalls.
“I’m worried there won’t be enough skates to rent or that the area won’t be big enough,” Schweber said.
Although there is no set inaugural date, the rink is expected to open soon.