On Dec. 22 the last students stuffed their belongings into suitcases and exited their UR dwellings. For the next three weeks, most of the normal campus operations were maintained while the faculty and staff suffered minor empty-nest syndrome.

Over the winter vacation, the majority of academic buildings remain open with reduced hours, while the residence halls, apart from Graduate Living Center, are closed, according to Vice President and General Secretary Paul Burgett.

“The Residential Life staff continue to occupy their offices, which can’t be too much fun because without the student residents, the buildings are dead,” Burgett explained. “Also, Wilson Commons is on a holiday schedule during which the building is only open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. No point in keeping it open because there’s nobody to play the game machines!”

According to Director of Wilson Commons Anne-Marie Algier, the staff uses the break to work on projects that were put on hold during the hectic times of the semester. The break because it is a perfect amount of time off, unlike the summer break when I end up really missing the students. The students bring a lot of energy and it’s great to see them come back from the winter break.”

In addition to completing unfinished projects, Algier said that she enjoyed the chance to socialize with her co-workers and discuss their lives outside of the university.

“Our staff went to the Holiday Inn to a happy hour. Time to go and have food and catch up with each other. But besides that fun, it wasn’t like we were like,’Yay! They’re not here! Let’s party every day!’ It’s actually really quiet,” she said.

Unlike the daily chaos of in-session campus parking, Algier mentioned that she has first choice parking during the break, which is convenient as the Rochester weather deteriorates.

“The parking is a breeze,” Algiersaid. “You can get any spot you want. I came in on [Jan.] 27 just to check on things and I didn’t see any people. It was so strange.”

Burgett agreed with Algier. He said the atmosphere on campus is the complete opposite of the energetic, lively ambience that the students provide with their presence in the residence halls.

“Many offices have holiday parties,” Burgett said. “They’re lots of fun because there’s food and some folks come to school wearing festive holiday clothing. But except for a few holiday parties and the occasional phone ringing, the campus is dead.”

A positive, but short lived, effect of this absence is the unusual cleanliness of the floors, bathrooms and hallways, according to Algier.

“This is the time when the custodial staff can do major things like stripping and waxing, things they can’t do when students are around, and it’s amazing. The floor shines and it’s like ‘wow,’ for a second,” she said.

“Then all of the kids come back and it’s dirty again. But it’s really nice to see the floors sparkling clean for just a few days.”

The Susan B. Anthony Residence Hall custodian James Robinson commented on the large amount of work conducted by the custodial staff during winter break.

“We got a lot done during the break, but it was so lonely here without the students walking around. It’s very slow and quiet. We do miss [the students] when they go home,” Robinson said. “We talk to a lot of the students while we work and it’s not as fun cleaning without them.”

Freshman Greg Witkin said that he believes the faculty and staff spend the winter break utilizing the campus facilities for entertainment as opposed to accomplishing work as they claim.

“I think that the campus completely freezes over so the faculty and staff run through the tunnels and play tag and manhunt in the stacks. Maybe they have extreme ice fishing competitions,” he joked.

Like the majority of students, sophomore Lisa Span admitted that she had no idea what occurred on the campus during winter break.

“I would think that the campus is really quiet and that the people who are here wouldn’t have much to do. Truthfully, I never really thought about it before. I was too excited to go home,” she said.

While the staff and faculty continued their routines and most students returned to their pre-college, parent-run homes, a small group of students traveled to Malawi, southeastern Africa, where they engaged in culture exchange activities, according to junior Seth Baum.

“We spent one week in Gowa, a 200-person village that was literally off the beaten path- it was a two-hour walk from the nearest highway. We lived with families there, we also built a permaculture garden, which will be used for demonstrations and laboratories, outside the Gowa school,” Baum said.

“We spent the other week experiencing various facets of Malawi culture, learning about permaculture, and going on a safari. The trip was an amazing.”

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