When campus goes (mostly) quiet over break
An empty John and Joan Monninger Center for Learning and Research at the College at Florham awaits the start of a new semester. (Photo by Dan Landau)
By Kenna Caprio
The bustling flow of students, streaming into the hallway between classes, ceased. Lines at Jeepers were short and the cafeterias closed. It was essentially a ghost town at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Metropolitan Campus and the College at Florham.
At least on the surface.
But underneath, a whole group of people — comprised of resident assistants and Winter Session enrollees, international students, student athletes and workers — made the most of winter break.
Nearly all remaining students took advantage of the quiet with day trips to New York City and the surrounding areas; homemade dinners in the dorms or takeout; and the time to just hang out with a few friends on campus.
“The rest just slept through the day,” jokes Sophie Adeyemo, a 23-year-old graduate student in the QUEST Program and winter resident assistant (RA).
Approximately 1,400 students lived at the College at Florham for the fall semester, says Wilson Wai Bong Ng, campus life coordinator. Just over 780 lived on the Metropolitan Campus, reports Stacey Davis, assistant director of Residence Life for operations. Over winter break, those numbers shrunk significantly, to an average of 120 students on each campus this year.
“Everything moved at a much slower pace,” says Christopher Trautman, a 20-year-old junior, QUEST student and winter RA at Florham. “Normally, this campus is bustling with students. Over break, it’s very peaceful and tranquil.”
Shi (Porter) Yang, an 18-year-old international student from Taiwan studying political science and criminology, seized the opportunity to travel to New York City, Pennsylvania and around New Jersey with friends. Staying at Florham also afforded Yang the chance to spend Christmas and New Year’s with his brother, who flew from California — where he attends high school — to the East Coast for a two-week visit.
Yang embraced Winter Session, too, by taking Criminal Law. He earned an A.
Other students — including Trautman — tackled student teaching and classroom observation requirements during the break. Shelby Steward, a 21-year-old senior, winter RA and QUEST student at Metro, completed two weeks of student teaching. Because that work needed to be fulfilled in New Jersey, she only flew home to Texas for 10 days.
Steward says she and her family felt much more comfortable with her going back to the East Coast early, knowing that she could stay on campus. That’s a comfort all the winter break RAs try to extend to the residents they’re responsible for as they complete routine rounds each night.
“Rounds are between 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. Then, we’re on call until 9 a.m. the next morning,” explains Steward. “We do the checks on all halls to make sure people have everything that they need and that they are safe.” This same protocol applies year-round.
Dickinson Hall's Wilson Auditorium, on the Metropolitan Campus, is vacant during winter break. (Photo by W. Scott Giglio)
On both campuses, winter break RAs must also put in work hours in the Residence Life offices, providing additional administrative support.
“We’re answering phones and helping people — including new students, those not living on campus before and those coming back from abroad — get their spring housing assignments,” says Trautman.
Otherwise, the RAs spent their time the way the rest of the winter residents did: relaxing. And eating takeout.
Applebee’s, Victor’s Pizza and Chinese food top the list of dine in/takeout options at the Metropolitan Campus. Students also cooked on campus in Linden 6 and University Court 4 and 6. “People get resourceful and go to a friend’s house for dinner,” says Adeyemo. At Florham, says Trautman, “we buy our own food and fend for ourselves. We eat a lot of Ramen.” Students can prepare their own food in Park Ave. and Rutherford residence halls.
“I live in a dorm with a kitchen. All of my friends borrow the fridge and microwave,” adds Yang. Staying over winter break, he says, “is a good way to learn how to cook a different food everyday.”
Anyone interested in applying for winter, spring or summer break housing should reach out to the Office of Residence Life (Metro) at email@example.com or the Office of Campus Life (Florham) at FDUHousing@fdu.edu.