Illuminating the Quad

Katie Langley, Associate News Editor

Students gathered to see performances during the Quad lighting event on Dec. 1. Contributed by Autumn Driscoll (Autumn Driscoll)

A mob of shivering students, staff and families scrambled to put up their phones and press record as Quinnipiac University President Judy Olian counted down the seconds before pulling the switch to turn on the delicate icicle lights that lined the Quad.

A hush fell over the crowd as Olian reached number one. Then, nothing, no lights flickered to life beneath the library clocktower.

Anticlimactic sighs filled the chilly air. Suddenly, voices of “look behind you” and “turn around,” and the crowd shifted to find that the white lights on the student center roof hadn’t failed like the rest. As students oohed and aahed and resumed their Snapchat story videos, the rest of the Quad illuminated in holiday lights, and the cheers were heard across campus.

The moment was not unlike the college experience over the past two years, certainly not perfect, with moments of disappointment and stress, but also with a community that persevered and overcame challenges in the end.

The university lit the Arnold Bernhard Library, Carl Hansen Student Center, Echlin Center and Lender School of Business snowy white during the Quad lighting event on Dec. 1.

“I’m excited there’s a bunch of Quinnipiac kids coming together,” said Alexa Herzog, a graduate molecular and cell biology student, who was at the lighting. “It’s actually my first time coming here to the lighting, I’ve been here for four years. Very excited to see it, everyone having fun.”

Complete with a speech from Olian and plenty of entertainment, the event aimed to promote just that: fun and community bonding in a time where many students are cramming for finals and missing holiday preparations with their families at home.

“(The event) was just getting everybody into the Christmas spirit,” said Jennie Koutsouras, a first-year health science undecided major. “I know a lot of us are really excited. A couple of us are a little homesick, given we had a week home and now we’re here for a couple weeks and then we get that long break, so I think little things like this happening around campus just makes everybody excited and in the holiday spirit.”

The lights weren’t the only draw for students, many of whom came to take advantage of the free cookie and hot chocolate bar, which was swarmed quickly after the sun set over Sleeping Giant

State Park. If you were lucky enough to get a cup, the drink provided a needed hand warmer in the December temperature.

“(The hot chocolate was) really good. It’s needed on this night,” said Amanda D’Ambrosio, a sophomore nursing major.

As students lined up to score hot cocoa and take pictures with Boomer the Bobcat in Santa’s sleigh, groups of Quinnipiac singers provided the soundtrack to the evening.

The Note-able, the student-run choir, opened up the performances with its rendition of “What Christmas Means To Me,” a tune about all things festive and bright, popularized by Stevie Wonder in 1967.

“We decided to choose songs that we believed would get everyone in the holiday spirit,” said Alexia Heurtelou, a senior psychology major and the president of Note-able.

Bringing it back to the 2010s, The Legends A Capella had a soulful take on “New Rules” by Dua Lipa, a fan favorite that certainly got the party started. The Legends closed out the evening on a harmonious note with the traditional Christmas song “Mary, Did You Know,” earning much praise from the crowd.

Stephanie Morrow, a senior international business major and the president of The Legends, said that the event was a resounding success.

“We loved the turn out,” Morrow said. “Feeling the support from fellow students is what makes all of the rehearsing time worth it, and being together of course.”

Like many artistic groups, The Legends have only recently been able to return to singing together in person.

“We were so excited to perform because we haven’t gotten the chance to perform for almost two years now,” Morrow said. “We were so happy to be back performing for the community.”

The choir groups were one of the memorable parts of the night for sophomore sociology major Naomi Gorero.

“It was a wonderful event because multiple people from QU gathered together to see the lights,” Gorero said. “The lights were really amazing, we had a lot of festive music.”

For those who stuck around after the music, there were even more perks, including holiday trivia. Lucky winners brought home Quinnipiac merchandise. Many also made off with free tickets to the Dec. 1, Quinnipiac women’s basketball game after the lighting, handed out by the Quinnipiac cheerleading team.

The Quad lighting allowed students to gather and share a communal space for one of the first times since the COVID-19 pandemic. The university’s newest light installations will provide brightness to the dark December nights leading up to the semester break, and spread some holiday cheer, too.