Sunday, 10:37 A.M.
Enter: me, running on four hours of sleep, tears already streaming down my face as I raced down the stairs to let my dad into Walsh.
After four days of hugs, tears, and drowning my sorrows, the time had finally come to move out and confront the reality that awaited me upon my return home. The number of move out slips hastily posted on the door of every suite had gradually declined as the days went on, but many students had made the same decision as me: to wait until the last possible second to move out.
This was easy if you are lucky enough to live relatively close to BC, or could afford potentially more expensive transportation. For other students, though, leaving early was a difficult but necessary decision.
Some were worried about the spread of coronavirus, long before the majority of the campus, and wanted to get home as soon as possible. For others, it came down to finances.
“I left Friday because transportation was cheaper,” said Lazaro Alvelaez, CSOM ‘22. Buying a flight to Florida, as Lazaro would have had to do, with such short notice was costly, especially coming right off of Spring Break.
Arranging transportation was only one challenge associated with moving out. Storage was also an issue. Typically, students have weeks to prepare to pack up a year of their lives. They know when their last final is and have time to arrange things like storage facilities. With Easter break only a few weeks before finals, some also start taking some unneeded items, like winter clothing, home then. This time around, those from long distances had to, on top of everything else, figure out what to do with all of their stuff.
Luckily, these students were not left behind. Students who live locally and had space offered up their basements to those who needed it. People that could fit an extra bag or two in their cars shoved their friends’ items in. Friends came together to split the cost of a storage unit.
Professors and administrators rallied around their students. A spreadsheet created by BC Law with over 130 faculty members offering up storage, transportation, language services, or even a place to stay quickly made its rounds among the student body.
Offices like Montserrat and Learning to Learn reached out to their students, providing further resources and support. BC also provided thousands of free boxes and help with loading and moving items through Res Life staff and Piece-by-Piece movers, a company that also offered storage, albeit at a cost.
Still, these resources could only go so far. For some students, returning home was simply not an option. Whether it be due to an unsafe environment, international travel restrictions, or a multitude of other reasons, staying on campus was the best option. These students were able to apply for exemptions, and as of April 8, BC reported that 306 students remained on campus. Res Life moved these students from their academic year dorms to singles on Upper or CoRo.
As a result, BC Dining had to shift its operations, as well. It is now operating only out of Carney’s with limited hours and only to-go options available. As seen by posts on its social media, Dining has erected plastic walls separating cashiers from students and is limiting the number of students allowed in the dining halls at one time. While students are trying to cope with this new normal, staff members are doing the same, trying to accommodate student needs and keep everyone safe and healthy.
Even though it may feel like it, the semester did not end once the majority of campus left. Despite a small reprieve, classes started in full force within days of move out. For some, this was a welcome distraction and way to pass the time.
For others, though, finding the motivation and focus to complete assignments was difficult. “I live in New York City and it’s just really difficult to sit here trying to learn physics when there are thousands of people in my city dying,” explains Gabi Prostko, MCAS ‘22.
This is a common sentiment, even from those who do not live in the epicenter of the pandemic. With the constant flurry of updates, from mainstream news sources to social media pages, many have been feeling anxiety or changes to their mental health. Add in the loss of coping mechanisms, such as time with friends or going to the gym, and it can become extremely difficult to focus on readings or assignments.
Even putting mental health aside, a change in environment may not be conducive to productivity. “Now that I’m home, it’s been really difficult to find the motivation to do work. Part of the problem is that since I’m at home, it feels like I’m on break,” comments Josh Fording, MCAS ‘22. Being at home may also mean loss of access to quiet spaces or reliable WiFi, adding another hoop to jump through for students to succeed.
Due to these concerns, BC made the decision to allow students to declare any and all of their classes Pass/Fail up to the last day of classes, helping to relieve the burden of worrying about grades or GPA. While not a perfect system by any means, it provided some reprieve for those who needed it. Professors have also been making accommodations and changes to their syllabi, taking into account feedback and trying to care for their students as much as possible.
With all of this anxiety and uncertainty, remaining connected has been more important than ever. Professors, advisors, and other staff members have reached out to students to check-in and to be there for those they care about.
Clubs are holding meetings, sending emails, and doing their best to support their members. Friends are scheduling Zoom calls and organizing game nights, dance parties, yoga classes, or catch-ups to make up for lost time. There are even new dating services for college students to meet matches from across the country over Zoom.
While students may have physically moved out, they did not leave the BC community behind. And with every show of care and support, I remain hopeful that we will somehow come out of this stronger and inspired to fight for those who need it.
This article was originally released in May, 2020, as part of our special print edition, “Five Days,” one, final, tribute to the seniors of the Class of 2020. If you would like to view the magazine in its entirety, you can find the entire digital edition published here.