Across campus on Tuesday afternoon, UNC students were preparing to say goodbye.
First-years at the Student Stores were stocking up on UNC posters to put in their childhood bedrooms, their classroom for the rest of the semester. Final goodbye waves—6 feet apart—on South Road. Parents pulling up in minivans, many who dropped their children off just a week ago.
“See you soon, well, if ever,” someone shouted outside Davis Library.
On Monday, UNC announced undergraduate classes would go remote for the rest of the semester, after more than 100 cases of COVID-19 spread through campus, most notably the South Campus dorms. The University said it will de-densify campus. Students can cancel housing contracts for free and those with hardships can remain.
The last day on campus took place in the shadow of a protest in the Pit. Over and over, the protester on the megaphone relayed grievances on the University’s mishandling of the pandemic. As suites had their last dining hall meals outside together, first-year students said they felt like guinea pigs they didn’t sign up to be.
The journalists who came to campus this morning left a quiet campus now in shock, a sense of dread in the air. On South Campus, students were already moving out.
Maxwell Hudgins, who was helping his suitemate move out of Craige Residence Hall, felt disillusioned about the first-year experience. He moved in during Hurricane Isaias, which he felt was a sign he shouldn’t have come in the first place.
“I was expecting Labor Day at the least and they’d tell us to go home and stay there,” Hudgins said. “I’m over it.”
First year students did not have the traditional FWOC experience, void of Fall Fest, concerts on the quad and rampant socializing. Instead, many of the first-years found company within their suites.
Hinton James roommates Ainsley Kaplan and Jenna Barnes embraced each other outside of Kaplan’s packed car, promising to see each other soon. Kaplan’s car was running, ready to drive back to Northern Virginia. After just a week, it was the end.
“It doesn’t feel real right now, but it will tomorrow when I’m home alone,” Kaplan said.
First-year George Wasson was helping his roommates move out. One parent is a healthcare worker and the other is immunocompromised, so he felt he was at a crossroads.
“I just want to get out of here but I have to wait and see what to do,” Wasson said.
The tears began yesterday for first-year Alex Zielinski, who was beginning to move out of Hinton James. Though she expected to move out soon, she thought she would have more time on campus.
“I worked all four years to get into Carolina,” Zielinski said. “It feels like something is being ripped away from you.”
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