The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday May 13th

'Ghost town': Students still in dorms talk readjusting to life in an empty campus

Students enjoy the outdoors while being social distant at Polk Place on Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020.
Buy Photos Students enjoy the outdoors while being social distant at Polk Place on Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020.

As UNC made the switch to remote learning, student occupancy on campus fell from 91.2 percent to 12.9 percent. And those who decided to remain on campus have adapted to a new way of life during the pandemic. 

For Jessica Uba, a sophomore philosophy major, it is the community aspect of UNC that is missing. 

“You’re reminded of this daily,” Uba said. “I’m constantly reminded of this every time I pass by the heart of our campus — the Pit. What used to be the most spontaneous and energetic place on campus suddenly feels like the most somber place to walk by these days.” 

Uba said she needs to get out of her room during the week for her mental health.

“I decided that I needed to get out of my room a few times a week,” Uba said. “I leave my room at 7:30 in the morning and go to the Student Union, and then I watch all of my lectures and participate in class and study.” 

Yessica Cardozo Dominguez, a first-year music major, said she has not had time to explore UNC before, but can now learn more about places on campus. 

“I have been going on the U-bus and exploring Franklin Street and the botanical gardens,” Cardozo Dominguez said. “I did not know Franklin Street that well, so it has been nice to learn more about the area.” 

Cardozo Dominguez said she spends time outside for various activities, including studying. 

“I like to play tennis with one of my friends on campus for fun,” Cardozo Dominguez said. “We play on the courts near Hojo.” 

While Cardozo Dominguez has taken time to experience campus and be outside, she said she hopes students can be together and healthy once COVID-19 is no longer an issue.

“Being on campus is one of the most beautiful experiences for me as a first-generation student, but it’s saddening to see how much COVID-19 has taken from us,” she said. “Although I am happy to be here on campus, I have become anxious about COVID, and campus looks a bit lonely with all the students gone.” 

Cardozo Dominguez also said there are benefits to staying on campus this semester. 

“I really enjoy being on campus because I can connect with others more easily,” she said. “If I moved off campus, it would really be impossible for me to interact with other UNC students.” 

Leighton Walsh, a first-year business major, said he spends a lot of his free time exercising outside to keep him busy when not in class.

“I’ve gotten into cardio and running all the trails,” Walsh said. “It helps me out with how to deal with all of what’s going on, so it helps me get out there and just enjoy the day.” 

Walsh said living on campus can be lonely sometimes.

“As much as the community is still here, it almost feels empty at the same time just with how big the dorms are versus how many people have chosen to stay,” Walsh said. 

Although campus life looks different this semester and friends are more difficult to make, Walsh said this is something he has to persevere through.

“If you’re going to live in a ghost town, this might be one of the places to do it,” Walsh said.

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