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Clearing COVID-19 from Campus

“Do I know you?”

We all at least somewhat know of one another: not enough to greet each other and ask how we’re doing, though. But in the week after we were told that we were being kicked off of campus in fear of COVID-19’s spread, an apocalyptic feeling settled in our beloved Purple Bubble. We thought we had a full spring semester to enjoy the sun, the outside, and the colorful mountains, but that was cut short. It had become a time for practicality and succinctness, and the mere question, “Do I know you?” seemed enough to start a conversation. Yes or no? Are you familiar to me? Am I familiar to you? Familiar enough to kiss me in private? Even people with whom I wanted to be friends with later in the year, I now found the bravery to go, “How you doin’?” with a smile.

The sound of tape being pulled off the roll now rings in my ears. For a week straight, it felt like it could be heard at all hours of the day. I went on what was essentially a six day long bender, and on one of the last few nights, stumbling into my old freshman dorm building at three in the morning, I found an underclassman, still taping his boxes shut. I didn’t know him, but he helped me make some ramen that somebody had left out for the taking in the common room.

Being kicked off campus was abrupt. We were in the midst of a grind, crawling towards spring break, with midterms punctuating the time period. I keep on comparing the experience to having a rug pulled out from under me, with my chin slamming the ground. It wasn’t a graceful fall. I planned on packing all day the day before I was supposed to leave: instead, I found every excuse in the world to avoid doing it. Retrospectively, I suppose I support the campus’ decision to evict us because it made sense in the context of the pandemic. We wouldn’t want to put pressure on the healthcare system of the surrounding area, right? That doesn’t mean it was any easier, though.

We were given a very short notice, and it was strange, because all of a sudden, all the people we assumed we could talk to later in the year, we couldn’t. I could see it happening before my eyes, as people who usually couldn’t look me in mine, suddenly had the courage to open their mouths and not only say hello, but also ask how I’m doing. When it came to the party scene, it seemed like everybody picked up the “carpe diem” attitude that I’ve been carrying around with me since my first day on campus. Like I always say, life is too short to be boring. Graffiti even started popping up around campus: I’m personally a fan of the “Beware the Ides of March” on Faye and the alien spaceship drawing on the Spencer Art building. I appreciate the irony of Wahl’s op-ed being published in that week’s Record, surrounding the need for more expressive, student-led architecture and design on campus buildings. I guess that he got what we wanted, in one way or another.

“No, I don’t think I know you,” the tall man in a mask said with a smile at the masquerade ball. Shame, right?