Deck the (Residence) Halls: Staying on Campus Over Break


Dean Desciak and Father DeCola reside in McKeon Hall. (CONNOR MANNION/THE OBSERVER)


While most Fordham students and faculty leave campus during winter recess, a small group of students and faculty remain on campus for the majority of the holiday season. Before the last exam date on Dec. 21, the population on the Fordham Lincoln Center (FLC) campus has dwindled dramatically and by late December, Lowenstein, McKeon Hall, and McMahon Hall are nearly deserted. Those who do remain on campus when so many have left are able to generate new communities and do what they might not normally have time for.

Joseph Desciak, assistant dean for freshmen at Fordham College at Lincoln Center has lived on the 15th floor of McKeon Hall with his wife, Lindy, for two years. During winter recess, Dean Desciak and his wife visit family for a couple of days around Christmas, but spend the bulk of the break in their apartment on campus. “It is nice when everyone is away, but it’s nice when everyone comes back,” Desciak said. The campus is “definitely quiet,” and because students are not allowed to remain in McKeon, the Desciaks take advantage of the alone time. They have guests over and even throw a small “pre-New Years party,” Desciak noted. The Desciaks have grown close with Father Vin Decola, assistant dean for the Gabelli School of Business at Lincoln Center (GSBLC), who also lives in McKeon Hall and remains on campus, as well as the security guards around campus. “We are some of the only ones in so we chat a little bit more with [the security guards],” Desciak elaborated. In addition to decorating their apartment for Christmas, the Desciaks take advantage of the empty laundry room, enjoy New York City holiday festivities and participate in community service through the Catholic Church.

Father Vincent DeCola, like Dean Desciak, lives in McKeon Hall.  He stays in his apartment during the break, but leaves for a couple of days to visit family after Christmas. DeCola says that remaining on campus is a time of relaxation when he gets to read, clean and do laundry, and sometimes offers to show a movie for the international students who remain on campus. “Some of these movies are a great way to show them American culture,” DeCola explained. He has also developed a friendship with the security guards on campus because he has a “chance to sit and chat more with them because the students are gone and things are a little bit quieter.” DeCola said that although he does not like the consumer culture surrounding the holidays in New York City, during these times he enjoys observing the “hustle and bustle” of shoppers, “even though I’m not shopping myself,” he added.

Yao Yao, FCLC ’19, is from Suzhou China. Yao was on campus for all of last year’s winter recess and plans to remain on campus for this year’s winter recess and for majority of the year.  Although Yao does not usually celebrate Christmas, he celebrated informally while in the US since it is “really internationally renowned,” Yao said. Yao added that the campus “feels pretty empty and tranquil” during the winter break, while New York City as a whole “feels really energetic and cheerful.” Yao notes that it would be nice if he had been allowed to remain in McKeon last winter, but he spends much of the break going out with friends and therefore doesn’t think Fordham needs to do more to accommodate students who remain on campus.

To many American students, the thought of staying on campus may seem melancholy, so it’s nice to know those who do make the most of it! While the lived experiences of students and faculty who remain on campus for this coming break remains, individuals like Desciak, DeCola, and Yao will reign in the New Year with the peace and serenity of a nearly empty Lincoln Center campus.