Trading dorms for living rooms, most of us have retreated from Westmont to live, stranded, in our childhood bedrooms, a relative’s house, or on a friend’s couch. We work online, spend time with family, and create distractions to compensate for our isolation away from the campus community. However, not everyone is off campus. A few students continue to remain on La Paz Road — whether for work or because they live out of state — finding ways to create community in a near-empty campus.
As you can imagine, Westmont’s campus is almost a ghost town. “Campus is eerily desolate,” shares senior Alexa Highsmith. “Twice already I’ve walked up to the post office from lower campus without running into another person, which is really a strange phenomenon, especially when campus is usually so full of life.” However, Highsmith goes on, adding, “There’s a strange sense of peace that comes with the desolation, too, and a quietness like I’ve never experienced.”
This peace allows for different ways to rest and spend time on campus. Besides the copious amounts of online lectures and readings, Highsmith has found that walking is a good way to pass the time. “It makes space for reflection and silence, and allows me to embrace the present and live fully in gratitude,” explains the enthusiastic senior. Highsmith has also found pleasure in writing, whether it be journaling, poetry, or essays, finding it is “another helpful reflective process.” In addition, life on campus leaves a lot of room for rest in general. Emily Evans, who commutes to campus and answers phone calls in Kerrwood, has been catching up on sleep. “I’ve been sleeping a lot, and not in an unhealthy way,” shares Evans. “I try to go to bed at a good time, but I give myself the grace to sleep in; it keeps me feeling good and also passes the time.”
Despite there being few people left on campus, students should continue to exercise caution, as Emily emphasizes over email: “I wish other students on campus would realize they’re not the ones in danger, they are the danger.” However, while social distancing, students on campus continue to find ways to form community. “If the people who are here weren’t here, I really don’t know what I would do,” says Highsmith as she explains the importance of her social circle on campus. “A few friends and I have deemed ourselves a ‘family unit,’ taking care of one another and spending what time we can together.”
Highsmith emphasizes that, “as a senior, living on campus right now is a bit heartbreaking.” However, Highsmith also looks to the future, sharing that “another thing that gives me courage through all of this is the hope of seeing everyone together again, whenever that might be.” Although most of our community is separated, those on campus continue to find ways to survive and hope for a reunited student body.