Over spring break, Harding students were informed of the decision to not return to campus. Although some students have returned to campus to gather their belongings, many are now scattered across the world, leaving campus much emptier than it usually is in April. Some students, however, are still living on Harding’s campus due to personal situations, leaving them to adjust to a campus much quieter than normal.
Students were not given a definitive list of acceptable reasons to stay on campus, but instead were told to contact Student Life if they believed their situation constituted a need to remain. Some chose to stay due to their families’ health situations. A few remained on campus to continue internship work still going on. Others are international students unable to return home yet. Whatever the matter may be, Harding has permitted approximately 50 students to remain on campus for the time being.
Housing restrictions for students currently living in the dorms have tightened up with a 9 p.m. curfew and no grace period. To stay out for the night, students must request permission 24 hours in advance. Card access has only been permitted to the students who officially remain in the building, and former residents no longer have access.
To accommodate these students, the Charles White Dining Hall remains open. Senior Sean-Alex Smith remained in Searcy to continue his work with a local church, and he has been eating in the cafeteria more often than he previously did. He said he’s been pleasantly surprised.
“I have been going to the caf because I already paid for it, but the caf has been, like, the best caf I have ever had,” Smith said. “That food has been the best food I have ever had at Harding.”
Senior Addison Moulton decided to stay on campus due to lack of internet access at home. She said she has also been satisfied with the accommodations on campus. However, she said Harding has been starting to lose some of its typical charm.
“It has some of a Harding feel, but I would say it definitely feels different and empty,” Moulton said. “I would say a lot of the Harding feel is gone.”
Staying busy on campus has been a hard task for sophomore Sydney Bryant, who remained at Harding to protect members of her family from the potential of getting sick. She said the unexpected change in schedule has left her with too much time on her hands.
“I have viewed this as an opportunity to catch up on schoolwork, which I don’t have a lot of, thankfully,” Bryant said. “But also at the same time, it’s like, ‘Wow, if I did have schoolwork, I would have something to do.’”
Bryant said dorm life feels different since she is one of the only students in the dorm.
“The first couple of nights I was here I would definitely say it was an eerie feeling knowing I was behind locked doors, but at the same time being the only one here on this hallway, on this floor, was a little weird,” Bryant said.
Without most of the students, campus is certainly a different environment than usual. Smith, Moulton and Bryant agreed that Harding feels empty without everyone else. Since all summer courses have also been moved online, it will be a bit longer until the dorms are filled again.