Isolated on Fordham’s Empty Campuses

Keating+Hall+at+Rose+Hill+on+a+sunny+day+with+Edward%27s+Parade+empty

COURTESY OF ABIGAIL PRATT

While spring days normally ensure a crowded Edward's Parade, now that most students are gone, the Rose Hill campus is empty.

By JACQUELINE PIERCE, Assistant Features Editor

When Abigail Pratt, Fordham College Rose Hill ’21, an international student from New Zealand, first received word that face-to-face instruction would be canceled for the rest of the semester, she was overwhelmed. “I was just trying to figure out what that meant for me in terms of getting home because it’s not a two-hour journey to get home. It’s more like 20-something hours to get home, and going through four different airports.” 

On March 13, the Office of the President announced in an email that residential students should vacate the residence halls “as quickly as they can,” and that all students would be required to move out by Friday, March 20. On March 18, another email clarified that “the University is making limited exceptions” to address the needs of students with extenuating circumstances, including international students.

Pratt felt for a number of reasons that returning to New Zealand was not a viable option, including the safety of her grandparents who live with her family. “If I’m quarantined at home, it’s a risk to my family as well.”

Pratt contacted the Office of Residential Life (ResLife) in a number of emails to express that she would not be able to return home, saying, “The flights are too difficult of a situation for me to get home right now, so if I’m not allowed to stay on campus, I’ll be couch-surfing around.” 

Empty Rose Hill Campus
COURTESY OF ABIGAIL PRATT

Though Pratt received a number of offers from friends whom she could stay with, she felt it was necessary for her to stay on campus, as she didn’t want to become a burden for another family during this stressful time.

“Because it is still the academic semester, I have a lot to focus on academically. As soon as you change where you’re living, especially if I’m living with another family I don’t fully know, it’s just an additional stress.”

Pratt was first given an extension to stay until March 27, but was approved soon after to stay through the end of the semester.

Though she described the process of getting approval to stay as “stressful,” Pratt, who is also a resident assistant, felt comfortable in her communications with the administration. “I think being a part of the ResLife family, I’m familiar with them, so that eased my worries.”

However, others found the process more complicated. One student, who asked to remain anonymous, is staying at Rose Hill, but was unhappy with how ResLife handled the situation. “It was really difficult to get ResLife to allow me to stay and it was really anxiety-provoking, especially when everything unfolding was so new to us.

“I am grateful that they allowed me to stay, but getting to that point really was a fight when it shouldn’t have been,” she continued.

Pratt explained that while some students remaining on campus have had to move residences, she has been allowed to stay in her apartment. “I’m still in the same place because I’m in Campbell, which is one of the apartment-style places, and it’s where quite a lot of the staff that stay all year live, so it made sense to keep these buildings open.”

Empty Streets around Lincoln Center campus
COURTESY OF JAZMIN SOLOMULI

As a New Zealand citizen, Pratt is still able to return home, but there is now a mandatory 14-day stay in a quarantine facility. “I’m definitely going to stay until the last day of the semester,” she said. 

She is still figuring out where she will go from there. “The plan is to stay in New York. There’s no point going back to New Zealand.”

After she leaves campus at the end of the spring semester, Pratt hopes to return as soon as possible. “For the second session of summer, hopefully they’ll reopen and I’ll be back on campus, but it’s kind of up in the air right now.”

For now though, she finds herself on a very empty campus. “I see a couple of people, like the RDs (residential directors) that live here year-round … I think there are 10 or 15 other students staying at Rose Hill, but I don’t really see any of them,” Pratt said. 

Students are allowed off-campus in order to get food and essential supplies, but Pratt stocked up before restrictions were in place. “Honestly, I have not left campus ground in three or four weeks,” she said. 

Other students who live off-campus in nearby apartments have decided to stay in the city. Jazmin Solomuli, Fordham College Lincoln Center ’22, who often moved around growing up, identifies New York City as her home, living just eight blocks away from the Lincoln Center campus. 

Empty Lincoln Center Campus from West 60th Street
COURTESY OF JAZMIN SOLOMULI

Solomuli also wanted to stay in the city in order to be near her grandparents who live in Brooklyn. “I felt it was my responsibility to take care of them and to be here if they ever need anything.”

Solomuli has not been on the Lincoln Center campus since spring break, but she has seen the area around campus change dramatically. “There’s not that many people walking around anymore and lots of restaurants and shopping places have closed.”

“It’s empty and it’s quiet,” Solomuli said about the Lincoln Center area. “They have put up barriers blocking Lincoln Center. At the top of the steps, it’s gated and on the other side, that part is also blocked off.” 

 “It’s weird being at a campus that’s so quiet, but I’m used to it now,” Pratt said. “It’s quite nice, and the squirrels are back in full force.”

With the streets around campus empty, students at and near Fordham find themselves in an entirely new environment. However, those who remain have found ways to adjust, hoping that things might soon return to normal.