February 2, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 15°F

Life & Culture

Students cozy up for end-of-semester holiday fun

Holiday songs say it is the most wonderful time of the year — ignoring the grueling college finals and endless projects and assignments. To get away from the stress, holiday music played from IC Square on Dec. 2 as students shuffled in with their friends, wearing pajamas and displaying their holiday spirit. 

IC After Dark hosted a “PJs and Pancakes” event open to all students. The event was entirely free and IC After Dark provided hot chocolate, hash browns, pancakes and, of course, the maple syrup. The event was attended by about 130 students.

While students enjoyed their food and beverages, they were also welcome to create holiday crafts. There were mugs ready to be painted, ornaments and even gingerbread houses. A makeshift fireplace was displayed on the projector while blue overhead lights filled the room with a warm and cozy atmosphere.

Because of the holiday season and finals in full bloom, many organizations are putting on events around this time to increase the holiday spirit and decrease the stress from finals. The Student Activities Board (SAB) had their annual gingerbread house decorating contest Nov. 29 in IC Square. They also hosted a movie night Dec. 3 and 4 in Clark Lounge and screened “The Polar Express.” The American Red Cross Club decorated holiday ornaments Dec. 6 in IC Square. 

 Senior Gemma Contessa has been a member of the SAB since her junior year. She said the gingerbread house competition is a tradition that the club puts on each year. SAB announced the gingerbread house winners on its Instagram.

“The contest has always taken place during this time,” Contessa said. “It is nice to have students come together for an activity that is festive but also hopefully serves as a distraction from end-of-the-semester work and finals.”

According to the American Institute of Stress, eight in 10 college students reported experiencing frequent stress, and this number is on the rise. According to TimelyMD, more than 60% of students reported experiencing mental health problems during the 2021–22 academic year, yet only 15% actively seeked out college-offered counseling. 

Junior Noah Strathmann, co-vice president for IC After Dark, helped host the PJs and Pancakes event. Strathmann communicates with other organizations like the Conference and Event Services (CEV) for catering and Audio Visual Services when setting up any event. 

“When working on the theme and ideas for the event, we do it as a whole club,” Strathmann said. “We like doing fun, laid-back events for students to come to and be able to destress right before finals. After we have the foundation, the events team then comes together and we iron out the details for the event, such as decorations, activities, prizes and food.”

Strathmann said he and the team had ample time to plan this event, so they were not stressed when it came to any of the planning. He said his favorite part of the event was seeing it all come together and wearing his PJs. 

“We wanted pancakes because we wanted a breakfast-for-dinner kind of vibe,” Strathmann said. “We are encouraging people to wear PJs to the event. We thought this was a great way for people to come and relax at our event.”

First-year student Leona Sungkharom went to the PJs and Pancakes event in IC Square where she sat with a friend while sipping on hot chocolate and cutting into her pancakes. Sungkharom had her ceramic mug on her left ready to be painted and festive ornaments on her right. 

Sungkharom said she had not initially been planning to attend the event, but her friend asked her to go spontaneously and she is very happy that she ended up coming.

“I am a STEM major, so I have a ton of science finals,” Sungkharom said. “It is just a lot of work and I have to study a lot for them, especially these last few weeks. I have been stuck in my dorm a lot lately, and it is super nice to get out and go to this event.”

Many students ended up attending the PJs and Pancakes event for the same reasons. First-year students Katie Hayes and Katie Sochor are roommates and said they decided to come to the event together to get their room ready for the holidays. 

“We like decorating our room, so we wanted to find something that we can bring back,” Hayes said. “I have been in the mood for Christmas since October, and this is the first college event that is in the holiday spirit. And it is really getting me through this week because it is extremely stressful. I came here tonight to experience the happiness of the holiday.”

Sochor said it is nice to just relax and eat some good food in the weeks leading up to finals. 

Strathmann said he really wanted this event to be a safe haven for students before finals week comes. The IC Engage website is a hub for all of the festive events. 

“We really wanted to provide a safe and entertaining space for students,” Strathmann said. “While having the chance to destress with friends [and] make new friends and eat some pancakes.”

Katie Krom can be reached at kkrom@ithaca.edu