By Sydney Haulenbeek | Contributing Writer
The campus is silent as I push past the heavy doors of the Webb onto the Kaufman Mall. The air has a chill to it, November turning over into December, and it carries the kind of quiet that echoes through the campus. The only people around are a few professors talking amongst themselves in front of Constant Hall. I’m suddenly struck by how it feels like I missed the end of the world.
Only I didn’t, and almost nine months have passed since COVID altered everything.
I was one of the few students - largely freshmen - who chose to be on campus this fall. A day before mandatory move-out, I’m one of the few people left wandering through the halls. My last in-person class has four people in it, and I’m one of them.
Needless to say, this was not what I was anticipating my college experience to be when I was submitting college applications and filing paperwork last fall. But I don’t regret being on campus; It’s a decision that I would make again. And regardless of the holiday migration, many of the other, returning, students agree.
Adrian Hylton is a freshman who decided to attend classes in-person this fall because he wanted more opportunities to network and to reach out to get help if he needed it.
“I've enjoyed it throughout, even though everything is kind of closed down and you can’t really go out and make connections like you want to.”
He hasn’t been able to network as much as he would like, but “that's due to the circumstances” and he’d “rather have safety than… everyone getting sick.”
It’s been an adjustment, Hylton pointed out, to chose to come to school this year.
“It’s your first semester at college and everything is out of the ordinary,” he said. “It’s new to everybody, including the upperclassmen, and this has been a big adjustment.”
Nevertheless, like many freshmen who chose to be on campus, he’ll be returning for next semester.
“I feel like [this year] has gone as smoothly as it can, given the situation. I have no complaints, really, but it can only be so good during these times. But it's been fun, it's been fun.”
And yes, improvements could be made for better on-campus living in the midst of the coronavirus, although the school is limited by health restrictions. But that isn’t to say that the immersion that being on campus provides isn’t invaluable, especially in a time where it’s so easy to lose touch with reality.
Normally surrounded by students hurrying to class or hanging out with friends, the Lion fountain stands alone in the middle of a quiet campus. Photo by Sydney Haulenbeek.