Lonely Campus

What's it like living on campus with no one there?

April 10, 2020

Photo by Kate Vanni / Illustration by McKenna Black

Photo by Kate Vanni / Illustration by Eleni Pappas

I wake up every morning to the sound of birds chirping. That is all I hear on campus now that almost everyone is gone. 

There are no midnight screams from drunken first-years. The band of guitarists who used to play outside my window are now all back in their home states. 

I even miss the bad music people used to blast in the showers outside my dorm room.

One sound that has been gradually increasing is the whine of the ambulance siren as it rushes patients to the hospital. 

Since I’ve been granted emergency housing, my friends and family have been checking in on me, and asking what campus life is like now that everyone is gone. 

I always have the same response: “It’s lonely.” But I don’t think the word lonely does a good job of explaining what life is truly like here. 

Campus is not a ghost town. 

People from the surrounding areas are using campus as their park. Families go on their daily walks through central campus and people bring their dogs to the Redstone green to run around. Couples are holding dinner dates at the amphitheater outside of Harris-Millis. 

There are little moments throughout the day when I’m reminded that this is not normal.

When it rains I picture myself with a frown on my face walking to class, toes soaking wet. What I wouldn’t give to be experiencing wet toes in my 1:15 p.m lecture right now. 

I’m so desperate and bored that I still have my calendar notifications turned on to let me know that class is about to start, or a meeting I have scheduled begins in 10 minutes. 

It’s hard to describe what campus culture is like. “Lonely” doesn’t work because the technology I have lets me fill my space with my friends. 

“Empty” isn’t right because there are still people here. I have the dining hall workers who I see three times a day and the other students living in emergency housing. 

People on their daily walks will go by my window and point up at me, because it’s a shock to see a college student in their natural habitat — rare sighting of an endangered species. 

I don’t think there is a word in my vocabulary to describe what my life is like now, so that’s why I’ve decided to express it artistically. I went around campus between 12-2:00 p.m to take photos of typically high traffic areas on campus. 

Though the empty picture alone doesn’t do the people missing from it justice, myself and my illustrators have drawn people back into the photos, to show what is truly missing from campus.

There may still be sounds and people flowing through campus, but it is nothing like what it is supposed to be.

Photo by Kate Vanni / Illustration by Cole Fekert

Photo by Kate Vanni / Illustration by Savanah Tebeau-Sherry

Photo by Kate Vanni / Illustration by Savanah Tebeau-Sherry

Photo by Kate Vanni / Illustration by Juli Baldics

Photo and Illustration by Kate Vanni

Photo by Kate Vanni / Illustration by Izzy Pipa
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    Brian ThorntonApr 10, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and artwork Kate! You are not alone in your feelings. Stay strong!

    Brian Thornton