Students prefer to keep hanging out on campus

Students play spike ball Monday while enjoying the warm Arizona weather.

Story by Mike Kilen
Photos by Garrett Ohrenberg
GCU News Bureau

Grand Canyon University students can go home. They just don’t want to yet.

Monday, they were playing games on campus lawns, lying in hammocks with laptops balanced on their bellies, attending online classes in coffee shops or just enjoying the sunshine.

“Students realize they’ll be home in a couple weeks. Why not just hang out here and enjoy it?” said Matt Hopkins, Director of Residence Life.

GCU adjusted its spring semester months ago because of the uncertainty of COVID-19, ending in-person instruction April 1 for 80% of classes, followed by two weeks of online instruction (April 5-16) and a delayed spring break (April 19-25). But GCU has managed the health crisis well throughout the semester and recently reached zero COVID-19 cases on campus.

As of Monday, roughly 1,300 of the 11,300 students on campus had moved out, and Hopkins estimated only 30-40% would move out before spring break. He said it likely will be a steady flow of move-outs until April 23 instead of the big mass of plastic tub hauling of years past.

Maddy Drouin (left) and friend Isabel Pogson enjoy lunch on campus.

“I’m from North Carolina, so it’s a long trek home. It’s more convenient to stay and rest and move out in our own time instead of rushing it to go back home,” said Maddy Drouin, who has one semester left and expects to graduate next fall.

She also can concentrate a lot better on campus without having to adjust to the environment at home, where her little brother comes busting into her room to ask what’s up while she’s in an online class.

Drouin was eating bagels with friend Isabel Pogson on a sunny campus patio. Pogson graduates in April, so it makes sense to stay. But she said a lot of her friends also remained to utilize a better study environment.

While some students said friends took advantage of the capability to do their courses remotely and hit the road to travel, others stayed because they are athletes either still competing or training for next season.

Diana Villegas needs to stay on campus to work.

Or they have jobs. Diana Villegas and friends Kathye Ruiz and Jemina Grajeda all work for Sodexo and were all enjoying a break at a lunch table on Lopes Way on Monday. Villegas said she prefers to be on campus and go to class but looks forward to the day when COVID-era Zoom classes end.

With most students still here this week, some programming adjustments were made to provide more recreation opportunities for students, said Matt Lamb, Director of Campus Recreation.

The IM Golf Tournament was added April 12 at the GCU Golf Course. (Sign up at www.imleagues.com). Pools are back open without reservations from noon to 10 p.m. daily, and fitness center hours will remain open (6 a.m.-midnight weekdays, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. weekends) until April 16.

Also, the Canyon Activities Board added a movie night at 7 p.m. Wednesday on the Quad.

Kyle Henning (left) and Jakob Draper study in GCBC.

For freshmen Kyle Henning and Jakob Draper, the choice to stay here instead of return to the Chicago suburbs wasn’t hard.

“I’m only in college for four years and being on this campus is important to me. I don’t want to leave it earlier than I have to,” Henning said.

Draper said he has loved the full “GCU experience” on campus, even with the adjustments for COVID-19 this year.

“The community aspect of being able to be with a ton of other students who are in the same area of life as you are is really cool,” he said.

Sitting across from his buddy with laptops flipped open in GCBC, he’s not ready to give that up yet.

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.

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Related content:

GCU Today: GCU’s students on target for campus togetherness

GCU Today: As campus adapts, sense of community will remain

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