Keeping up with the Sidizens: Social committee finds new ways to connect
In a traditional year, the socials committee at Sid Richardson College plans Sid ’80s — Sid’s annual public party. This year’s Sid ’80s would have been the last one in the original Sid building, until social gatherings went from being opportunities for fun to potential disasters.
Now that Sidizens are spread across campus, the socials committee at Sid, which consists of Saloni Cholia, Andrew Graziano, Michael Li and Jacob Lurvey, is working to bridge the gaps between Sidizens across campus and remotely.
The socials said they look forward to collaborating with one another to find ways to recreate their events.
“My fellow socials have been so fantastic over the past few months that being a social hasn’t been difficult at all,” Graziano said. “Right away, probably in March or April, when we figured Sid ’80s wouldn’t be something we could do in person, Jacob texted all of us and we started planning new ideas.”
The socials’ main responsibility usually consisted of planning Sid ’80s, the public party held at Sid Rich every fall.
“We were super excited about this year especially, since it was going to be the last one in old Sid,” Graziano said. “We can’t necessarily do it in the same way this year, but both the spirits and socials are working with the executive council to make sure we do what we can in the safest way possible.”
According to Graziano, Sidizens can look forward to connecting with each other in new ways.
“We hope that through events planned specifically for Sid, students will at least be comfortable enough to start forming relationships now rather than waiting until moving into New Sid,” Graziano, a sophomore, said. “We are definitely brainstorming new ways to start safe connections with one another in new and innovative ways.”
The socials have to account for new regulations in their event planning, but also ensure that event attendees abide by social distancing standards.
“The most difficult part are the new [COVID-19 rules and regulations],” Cholia, a sophomore, said. “When you actually have an event, people naturally tend to congregate, so it is important to follow through and make sure everyone is social distancing.”
In terms of cross-campus events, the socials are aiming to bridge the gap between new and returning students to create the opportunity for new students to meet each other as well as upperclassmen. According to Graziano, approximately 90 percent of Sid freshmen are on campus while approximately 40 percent of Sid upperclassmen are on campus, which has led to concerns of a disconnect between the two groups.
One bonding event the socials planned to combat this issue was a socially distanced popsicle party, where Sid students from all across campus met in the academic quad. Freshman Jessica He said that the event, which was held immediately after Orientation Week, was memorable and made students feel a warm welcome and sense of belonging.
“We got to meet so many new people and eat fancy popsicles,” He, who is currently residing at Martel College, said. “I think Sid leadership is really good at bridging the gap between students across campus, because they want students to give suggestions and input on social events.”
The socials committee emphasized that student feedback from on-campus and remote students is critical for their events. They said they want to take new ideas into consideration and ensure that their planning is flexible enough to accommodate Sidizens across campus.
Earlier in the semester, the spirits committee organized the year’s first “Keg in the Club,” held on the Sid field in front of the old Sid student residence.
“Getting to see Sidizens [at Sid Rich’s physical campus] was great,” Cholia, who currently lives at Wiess College, said. “There were a lot of outdoor activities, like volleyball and soccer. They also had empanadas, which were delicious.”
New Sidizens are finding ways to meet in common spaces, according to the socials. Sid students in the north colleges, who share a servery, are using their meals as a way to spend time with one another. The use of outdoor spaces, particularly with the newly built outdoor tents, has been essential for maintaining and building relationships between Sidizens, the socials said. However, the close proximity between residential colleges poses the threat of cross-college contamination, which means Sidizens need to be even more cautious of social distancing.
The Sid socials said they’re taking any changes that result from COVID-19 regulations in stride.
“We know campus will continue to change in relation to how COVID-19 is impacting Rice, so we are just being really flexible and open,” Graziano said. “Our whole mindset has been that we cannot really change the situation, but we can be the best students we can be. That is really all we can ever do.”
Editor’s note: This is an installation of Keeping up with the Sidizens, a features series that checks in with various members of the Sid Richardson College community as they navigate a semester without a physical college to call home.
More from The Rice Thresher
According to Germaine Franco (Baker College ‘84), her time at Rice was a terrific experience that prepared her for the unexpected. Despite the incredible success of the Disney animation “Encanto” last fall, the nomination for an Academy Award for Best Original Score still caught the composer by surprise.
Even though McMurtry College senior Isabel Sjodin was raised in Houston, she didn’t know much about Rice until her junior year of high school. She said the first time she was scheduled to tour Rice she ended up chatting with a Rice student on campus and missing said tour. However, that conversation and a later overnight visit at Sid Richardson College made a strong impression on her.
In his almost 18 years at Rice, President David Leebron said he’s never taken more than four weeks off at a time, despite having the option for a sabbatical every seven years. While he doesn’t know what his future career plans are after stepping down this summer, he plans to take full advantage of his delayed sabbatical.