On March 24, it was officially announced that Castleton University would be finishing the remainder of the semester online, meaning some students had their final moments on campus. No final celebrations, no goodbyes, it was just done.
Castleton’s campus is now an empty with only a handful of remaining staff members left roaming the campus.
Director of Public Safety Keith Molinari is one of them, and describes the campus as “eerie.”
“You miss the student interaction, that’s what it’s all about. I never thought I was going to miss reading and processing alcohol complaints but I do,” Molinari said with a chuckle.
The new normal for campus has been ongoing for weeks now and consists of empty sidewalks and quiet.
For Area Coordinator Rachel Sayward, the new normal makes her long for student interaction.
“When I look outside my office window in Ellis, I am surprised I don’t see a tumbleweed. I miss the students, especially my CA staff,” Sayward said.
Sayward, like many others, is trying to stay busy and positive through this uncertain time and has tried to focus on the things she does have rather than the things she doesn’t.
Whether it is her work, walks around town or playing the “Animal Crossing” video game, she continues to adjust and be thankful.
The biggest goal many of the staff members continue to strive for is keeping up with students and offering support.
When the news first broke, Student Life Graduate Assistant James Wolfe immediately got on the phone and started contacting students to check on them.
“I want students to know as a school community we are thinking of them and care about them,” Wolfe said.
The Residence Life staff has been hard at work brainstorming different ways to support students through this challenging time.
Whether it be interactive events or activities, support emails, or simple check-ins, they want students to know they aren’t alone.
Wolfe said he’s confident that the Castleton community will continue to be a “Small University with a big heart.”
“I know the faculty, staff and student leaders will continue to work hard to stay connected in a time like this where we need connection the most,” he said.
Many of the remaining staff on campus have optimistic hopes for after this pandemic and advice for students.
“Stay positive. Really try to take what is good out of this. It’s given us a chance to get back to family, appreciating our freedom of going around and congregating with one another, if we can carry the positivity on these times will pass. This campus is resilient and is responding in all the right ways,” Molinari said.
Area Coordinator Bridget McHugh echoed Molinari.
“I am hoping this pandemic can teach people compassion and empathy. It is a trying time and I hope we can all support one another in a productive and positive manner,” McHugh said.
Although campus is empty and students are separated there will be a time of rejoice and normalcy once again.
That’s what keeps Molinari going and positive.
“I can’t wait for students to be moving in and seeing the excited freshmen and their families’ faces. I know when this is all said and done it will be a true celebration. I know for seniors they will all get to that end of the road party and it will