Students share their voices from an empty campus

As the university campus is shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students who are in circumstances have been sequestered in the Commons Apartments.

“To say campus is empty doesn’t do it justice. Without the hustle and bustle of all the students, it feels like the heart of Xavier has almost disappeared,” Zach Kane, one of the handful of students still living on campus, said. 

Although most students have been required to return home, the university has allowed some students to stay in the Commons Apartments during the campus wide shut down. 

Exceptions were granted to students who filled out a form, sent via a campus wide email, to show that they were in truly unique circumstances. These situations have ranged from financial stress to personal safety.

However, according to sophomore communications major Rue Crittenden, the housing exception process was not handled as smoothly as it could have been. 

“They updated us at around 9 p.m. on a random night. That was the worst night for me,” Crittenden said. “I had already filled out a form to stay on campus and I was nervous that they were going to force everyone to leave.” 

She went on to say that many things would have changed in her life if she was forced to go off campus. Students ended up needing to fill out an additional form in order to stay on campus.

The nearly empty campus has a much different feel for those who can still experience it.  

Junior art major James Reyes-Gomez compared it to a park. “There are still people around,” Reyes-Gomez said. “You see a few people out walking their dog, getting fresh air and just getting out of their house while still social distancing.”  

Others spoke on the eerie contrast between what would be the end of the spring semester and the current situation on campus. “It’s a creepy ghost town when no one is here,” Kane said. “Xavier isn’t Xavier without the community and people present on campus.”

In a limited role, the caf is still serving meals to students. Those who are on or near campus are able to go in during limited hours and are handed a bag of food with a few hand-picked items. 

Reyes-Gomez recognized how the caf’s hours often overlap with the times he has class meetings. “With how it’s organized, it requires me to cook on my own,” Reyes-Gomez said. “It’s not a big deal, but it is an additional expense.” 

Additionally, The Store, Xavier’s student-run food pantry, is providing students food in a limited capacity. 

Despite the challenges of social distancing on campus, classes still continue for the few who stayed. 

“I have had less motivation since I don’t feel like I am getting as much out of my classes as I used to,” Crittenden said. “For the most part I am keeping up well, but I’m ready for us not to be online. It’s not my thing.” 

Echoing those statements, Reyes-Gomez said that the online classes were disorienting, especially as his art classes are not translating well to an online format.  

Despite these difficulties, Kane pointed out that campus in the springtime has also never been so beautiful: “Full of chirping birds, beautiful blooming flowers and lots of people walking their dogs around campus.”