Summer 2022: The Summer of the Student

The energy around the University of Pittsburgh’s campus has begun to change. The weather is slowly getting warmer and campus morale is steadily rising. Students across campus are climbing out of their winter hibernation and populating the campus green space with hammocks, spikeball, and picnics.

Spring semester at Pitt has always been highly anticipated, but to most students, the arrival of spring means that summer is quickly approaching. While a vast majority of Pitt students journey home for the summer, there is always a special group of students that choose to stay on campus.

Summer on Pitt’s campus is very different from the normal student life most of us are accustomed to — the campus is half empty and we are free from the normal student obligations that tie us down. This combination of freedom and empty space encourages students living in Oakland over the summer to find creative ways to fill their newly found free time. 

Unfortunately, many of the benefits we receive as Pitt students disappear during the summer. For one, the benefits of having a Pitt student ID during the fall and spring semester are put on pause during the summer. Pitt students are no longer offered discounts or free passes to places like the Pittsburgh museums or the Phipps Conservatory.

Luckily, Pitt student IDs still function as a free bus pass during the summer. The free bus pass is an essential factor to filling one’s summer with fun activities as the bus serves as the perfect transportation vessel for exploring Pittsburgh.

This guide will help you explore low-cost opportunities for summer fun in Pittsburgh for Pitt students planning or considering staying in Pittsburgh over the summer.

Student Bands

One of the best parts of my past summer in Pittsburgh was exploring the music scene. There are a handful of fun, cheap options for Pitt students looking to explore the Pittsburgh music scene. The most convenient option is to go to a house show hosted by Pitt students.

House shows normally play alternative music, but some of the best bands from the past summer were Wild Blue Yonder and Quiet Hours.

In the fall and winter, these shows are held in basements which quickly become sweaty and unbearable because they are packed with students. But, in the summer, the house shows are starkly different and the open air encourages dancing, conversation, and even lounging.

At most, these bands might charge $5 at the door or else they are free. These bands know how to get a crowd going, but most importantly, the crowd consists of Pitt students and provides concert-goers an opportunity to build a musical summer community. 

Jam on Walnut

Another great way to explore the music scene in Pittsburgh during the summer is to attend Jam on Walnut in Shadyside.

Only a short bus ride away, Jam on Walnut is a block party/ summer concert series which donates twenty percent of their sales (beer, food, merchandise) to Animal Friends – a Pittsburgh-based animal rescue focused on rehoming and rehabilitation.

This concert series always supports a lively crowd and a band that is ready to rock out. Usually, the summer concerts take place about once a month during the warm months of June, July, and August.

The options make it easier for students to attend once or even go multiple times. Additionally, while there is alcohol available, the event is not limited to a 21+ crowd which allows the rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors staying on campus to join in on the fun.

If you choose to eat before you venture over to Shadyside and not buy anything, you have access to a free concert and night full of entertainment.


Moving more toward entertainment, Pittsburgh has some sweet movie deals if you were hoping to go out for date night or are bored on a rainy day.

Theaters close to campus include Southside Works by The Cheesecake Factory and Manor Theater in Squirrel Hill. Both have extremely reasonable deals on Mondays and Tuesdays. Fortunately, these deals — which include a $5 movie ticket — are yearly deals.

This deal is amazing for anyone who likes to go to the movies and basically halves the original price of a movie ticket nowadays.

Plus, summer is a perfect time for students to catch up on all the movies that came out in the spring when they might have been too focused on studying to take a trip to the movies. The cheap prices for high-quality entertainment are hard to pass up!

Masks Come Off and Pitt’s Verdict Is In

The news of Pitt’s mask mandate being lifted on March 28 marked the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

But since being lifted, mixed feelings have been stirring among Pitt’s population as it undoubtedly changed the course of the college experience for many students across the country. For the first time in almost two years, students are seeing the full faces of their peers and professors, and this radical change has produced for many a feeling of uncertainty for what the final weeks of the semester may hold. 

As for one of the biggest culprits for this uncertainty? Peer acceptance. The fear of being associated with anti-maskers is real, especially for Pitt students attending a notoriously liberal institution. Are you an anti-masker if you decide to no longer wear a mask? Just because Pitt has lifted the mask mandate does not mean it is immediately socially acceptable to trash all of your masks.

Universities and businesses can still enforce their own mask policies that have forced students and employees to follow the rules. And now that the number of COVID-19 cases has significantly dropped in the United States, universities and businesses have reevaluated their policies and made the mask mandate more of a flexible option.

Most people would assume this reevaluation to be a positive sign, signaling that the end of the pandemic is nearing. The problem is that while masks may be going away, the stigma remains.

Student Sami Semiatin said she was excited for the end of the mask mandate, but explained her hesitancy to not wear one in the first week of this trial period. In her eyes, she wanted to first observe the actions of her fellow classmates before making her final decision.

She explained that many of her classrooms were brimming with students, and that even with masks, she felt way too close to her classmates. If the classrooms were bigger and the students were more spread out, she would have less of an issue not wearing a mask.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any students who were in full support of ending the mask mandate. I can only deduce that a minority of Pitt students accept lifting the mask mandate without traces of concern clouding their minds. The mask mandate has now been officially lifted for two weeks, and many students are enjoying the option to wear or not wear a mask. 

If the classrooms were bigger and the students were more spread out, she would have less of an issue not wearing a mask.

The prospect of no longer fogging up your classes while breathing or being shamefully out of breath while racing to class is difficult to pass up. Yet it is my understanding that the fear of judgment is stronger. 

I learned multiple approaches for dealing with this unprecedented situation after talking to a handful of students. One of my peers, Julia Koehl, suggested following the professors’ lead. For instance, if a professor wears a mask to class, then she will continue to wear hers as well. If a professor comes to class without wearing a mask, she will feel more comfortable leaving her mask in her backpack.

Her approach to this situation is commendable and she explained that her reasoning behind her logic is based on the age difference between students and professors. The age difference, sometimes small and other times large, between professors and students is something to note.

Older professors are more at risk if they are to catch COVID-19. Further, students who go to social outings frequently and then choose to not wear a mask in the classroom, put older professors in a potentially dangerous situation.

But a question keeps running through a majority of students’ minds is how to act under this new policy. In other words, what does it mean to not wear a mask? Many Pitt students I spoke with said they will base their decision on what their peers and professors decide to do.

From the beginning of the pandemic, wearing a mask was a highly politicized decision. COVID-19 temporarily changed the lives of many people living in the United States as strict measures were enforced to protect the lives of American citizens.

The debate over this precautionary measure eventually came to the forefront of COVID-19 politics. So, a stigma surrounding wearing a mask was formed.

Initially, wearing a mask was seen as a necessary requirement to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Although, there was significant pushback against mask mandates as many citizens believed this requirement infringed upon their freedoms.

Moving forward, I plan to use a combination of the strategies discussed above. My desire to not wear a mask anymore is just as strong as my desire to respect my professors and not be viewed as an anti-masker.

The end of the mask mandate at Pitt is a positive sign that the world is slowly reverting back to its normal self, but I will continue to approach this policy change just as I have approached the pandemic — with caution and care.

Featured photo by DS stories on