Of course term actually began on Tuesday, but I have a strong sense of things speeding up around the English department and on campus generally.
One day during the holidays I let myself into the building–our “lovely” Hagey Hall–in order to do some work in my office. It is very weird to be on the uW campus when everything is shut down. It feels quieter than any other university during its off hours that I have known. Unlike some other university campuses, once you are on uW land you are on uW land, for the campus has a sense of geographical wholeness, encircled by the ring road. That’s not entirely true, of course, as Optometry is across Columbia Ave, and East Campus Hall is way over there. But most of the time, to those of us at the Arts end of the campus anyway, it feels pretty coherent and contained. So when business is on as usual there are people all over the place. And those people are colleagues, students, and the many wonderful library, staff and operations people who keep this place running.
Also, unlike many other university campuses we do not ‘close’ for summer term; rather, we are busy all three terms and almost every day. So the 10 days between the end of fall term and the beginning of winter term are strikingly quiet at uW. Even eerie. While I did see a couple of guys salting sidewalks after the snowfall and I think the library was open, the place was otherwise unoccupied.
So when I came to work on Tuesday morning I had a profound sense of relief. Relief that we are all back. The busses were crowded; there were lineups at the bookstore and at the coffee and food places; the library was buzzing; the halls of Hagey were filled with people (many of whom were looking for rooms that are not easy to find in this maze of a building!). I met with my own students and was truly glad to see them. There was noise. There was talking. There was movement. There was energy. And all felt right with our working environment again.