chris photo
Photo: Chris François

Home Alone 2: Residential Students Have Campus to Themselves

Chloe Leckrone

While the vast majority of students did not return to campus after the announcement that Manchester would be moving to remote learning, some international students remained due to difficulties that would come with traveling home.

The email notifying students of campus closure from President McFadden arrived on March 13, and some students realized they had limited options when it came to housing.

For senior Israel Tamine, the long trip back to his home in Ethiopia was too dangerous, so he decided to stay on campus.

This was largely the same reason that junior Edna Eben Ebai, from Cameroon, stayed on campus as well as that she felt “more comfortable on campus than squatting in someone’s house for so long,” as she put it.

For Chris Francois, the borders to Haiti were closed, so there was no way for them to get a flight home.

To consolidate, students remaining on campus in Schwalm, East and Garver Halls had to move to Helman Hall, while those in East Street apartments stayed where they were. Some students remained in Oakwood Hall, but Helman is currently housing the majority of students left on campus.

According to Ebai, the reason for moving students into Helman was to eliminate the use of community bathrooms, to limit contact among students. When students moved to the new residence hall, they were required to sign a new residency contract.

Perhaps incredibly, not much seems to have changed within the residence halls. “The suite-style halls have always been quiet, so it doesn't feel that much different,” Francois said. “The only difference for me is that I don't go to in-person classes.”

The general consensus is that Helman is as quiet as it has always been, with the only major change being a 10 p.m. curfew. Students are also no longer allowed to visit other residence halls or go into other students’ rooms. There are still some resident assistants and hall directors around to enforce the curfew and different hall rules.

The biggest changes that students still living on campus have noticed have more to do with the lack of activity across campus. “Campus is absolutely quiet, almost dead, except for a few townies who take a walk with their families/pets or jog through campus,” Francois said.

Most buildings on campus have been closed down, but places like Sisters Café or Lounge 12 have stayed open, so students still have meal options. At Sisters, the SODEXO staff provides food, and students may call and place an order and pick it up in 15 minutes. Students get up to three meals a day from Sisters, including the main dish, a side , and a drink, while Lounge 12 provides snacks.

Ali Goetcheus has also set up an online food pantry that allows students to place orders. “When she gets fresh fruits, she lets us know, and she delivers the food to various residence halls in named bags,” Ebai said.

Without students, faculty, and staff bustling around all day, things can get a bit boring for the remaining students, including Tamire. “Campus is empty and dull; thankfully, I have some friends that stayed to keep me company,” Tamire said.

On the other hand, some may enjoy the peace and quiet. “Honestly, I prefer campus as it is now,” Ebai said. “It is less noisy, and you get to see the beauty of the campus.”

Besides doing schoolwork, students have had to find other ways of keeping themselves entertained. Senior Naomi Deneke, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has been taking walks around campus when she needs breaks, and also enjoys calling friends in her free time.

Similarly, Ebai likes to visit the Peace Garden across the road from Helman when the weather permits.

Francois continues their work as an RA; though when working at the desk, social distancing guidelines must be maintained.