Saturday, December 10, 2005

Winter campus

When fall semester finals are over, the campus is eerily quiet. Parking lots widen with empty spots. Sorority row goes dark.

An ice storm the other night has denuded the trees and left a six-inch thick blanket of oak leaves on the lawns in front of the frat houses. The campus express bus jangles by, empty except for the driver, who's chatting into a cell phone as he passes the stops.

Riding my bike past the school on a chilly Saturday morning, I see a lone student jogging toward the library. Yellow school buses from area high schools line the curb by the arena, where the annual robot-building contests draw the young and brilliant from all over the city.

Last winter I went up on a Saturday to grade final exams and notebooks. The building was cold and, as far as I could tell, empty except for a few lingering members of the kitchen staff in the dining hall downstairs. I'd just settled into the adjuncts' second-floor windowless office, locked the door and popped open a Diet Coke when the power went out. Note to self, I thought: Bring a flashlight and put it in the desk drawer. I felt my way along the hallway wall to the stairwell. When I got outside, I watched two or three other rumpled profs stumble out of the doors at the other end of the building, blinking into the weak winter sunlight like old, frightened moles. We looked at each other, shrugged and walked to our cars.

6 Comments:

Blogger Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

Great descriptions of the empty campus.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Lindsay said...

Kind of off-topic but... the campus is beatiful at Christmas time at night when it's all lit up... absolutely gorgeous.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But the annual robot building contest - "Texas Best" is usually held atleast a week before the semester ends. Well empty the camus may have been on that saturday but more likely silent cos several students may have finally opened their books trying to get smarter using adderall. After all they had to pass the finals. For a change several students had an exam on the last saturday. Never attended a class on saturday but - a saturday final.

3:50 AM  
Blogger Lee said...

I worked while I went to college and I would usually except for the few days right around Christmas.

The fondest memories I have of college life typically were during these periods.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Jeff the Baptist said...

I'm a big fan of the empty campus myself. Like is so much simpler without thousands of undergraduates stumbling around and messing things up. I could go in and get real work done and not have to worry about hitting some jaywalking art student on Main Street.

My old alma mater had an optional winter session. It was great. The population on campus was a fraction of normal so the campus was queueless. The class load was light enough that you could still have a good long snowball fight with your friends and get your work done.

8:53 AM  
Anonymous highschoolkid07 said...

I like when you write about SMU. It makes me want to go and visit there.

I promise I will come and visit SMU one day! There is a TATE lecture coming up that I do not intend to miss. :D

10:13 PM  

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