The standard colourful flags hold over a sparse crowd of scholars alongside the principle row of the Commons first ground. Photograph by Jack Basmaci.
There’s a sense of bewilderment when one steps by the halls of UMBC this semester. The campus staples within the Commons, as soon as empty, at the moment are again to having strains that stretch midway throughout Commons. Salsarita’s is again allotting their overstuffed burritos, and supplied anyone desires it, Wild Greens has the very same “energy bowl” particular they provide each Fall semester — however the pervading temper, a wierd mixture of discomfort and hesitant optimism, is unmistakable.
College students rush somewhat extra by Masala, Pollo, and Scholar Alternative as a yr and a half of isolation depart them with an elevated sense of social anxiousness. They awkwardly lean nearer to the glass panes that separate them, shouting by their masks in order that the individuals taking their order can hear them over the now bustling sounds of the Commons.
However is it actually bustling? In comparison with the midday to 1 p.m. lunch rush of pre-COVID occasions, Commons appears quiet and empty. You possibly can simply discover a desk inside, even on a day when Hurricane Ida was scheduled to hit the Baltimore space. The “Sports activities Zone,” located simply subsequent to Hissho, whereas by no means significantly brimming with college students earlier than, now sits vacant most days, save your occasional curious freshman, peeking their head in. The Sport Room pool tables are unadorned and coated, and with out anyone to function them, the CRT tv displays additional again are dusty and darkish.
It’s unmistakably somewhat dour, and this temper just isn’t restricted to only essentially the most crowded of locations, nor merely to campus aesthetics. Eating hours, as soon as principally uniform, have now been arbitrarily scattered, together with the totally inexplicable choice to delay the opening of Einstein Bros Bagels (a breakfast spot) to no sooner than 3PM on most weekdays.
AOK itself, whereas fortunately left principally unscathed by the quarantine, presents barely decreased hours from years prior. Elsewhere, regardless of some much-needed and much-welcomed updates to the RAC format, membership sports activities are in disarray, with any and all competitions cancelled for a minimum of a complete yr.
All of those odd inconsistencies — mixed with the current information of President Hrabowski’s imminent retirement from UMBC, in addition to the myriad of masks mandates and hybrid programs that college students should wade by — contribute to an general sense of one thing amiss, as if the campus itself, identical to the remainder of the nation, continues to be catching up with the damages of 2020.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, and actually, a number of strides have been made to make this semester as straightforward a transition as potential. OCA Mocha, the Arbutus-based, UMBC-oriented espresso store, now presents a “Sunday Research Corridor” from 12:00-4:00PM, the place college students may refuel with a cup of espresso.
Even the newly-built Retriever Burger Co., positioned the place Mondo Subs was once, presents the hope of one thing model new, a future past the semi-stasis during which the campus at the moment appears to be working.
“Model new” is maybe one of the best time period for the present standing of campus life. UMBC’s scholar tradition faces a singular mix of things that may form it over the approaching months and semesters. With President Hrabowski retiring come June 2022, issues appear somewhat unsure for the way forward for UMBC, and it could be a mislead say that all the things on campus feels simply because it did some three years in the past.
With that stated, RBC., the return of (seb) occasions and the ever-growing extension of UMBC tradition off-campus all appear to anticipate an eventual return to UMBC campus tradition because it was recognized pre-pandemic. With the biggest incoming class ever seen at UMBC up to now, maybe the latter half of 2021 will show to be a fruitful, regenerative time for each workers and college students.