At around 8:30 am, Campion Dining Hall is sparsely inhabited. In fact, it’s mostly empty.
Students are clustered near the ends of the long tables in small groups; a few are eating by themselves, isolated either by circumstance or by choice. A common theme, though, is that everyone seems to be miles apart from one another.
All of the students who sit in the small groups are doing a combination of three things: eating, talking, or scrolling on their phones.
A handful of students are walking around the food stations, browsing the options available for breakfast.
Some workers — about four of them in total, dressed in black — are clustered toward the front of the room near the doors.
There is a consistent flow of students in and out of the doors; the number of students increases steadily as the morning passes.
These students tend to pass each other without any acknowledgement of each others’ presences.
The “Fish Bowl” area of Campion — a smaller space separate from the main hall — is almost completely empty, with two students on opposite ends of the room quietly studying.
Those who wait in line for omelettes face outward away from each other, rather than speaking and socializing.
One of the workers wipes off a table in a mechanical fashion, insinuating that she has done this same act countless times prior.
Campion at this hour is primarily about utility; whereas the Dining Hall is typically a social space where eating comes second to catching up with friends, in the early hours of the morning it is meant for nourishment and not much else.
In the lounge area, students seem to enter down the steps one at a time. While they descend fairly quickly, almost hopping down the stairs, they ascend slowly, as though their legs were heavy and difficult to lift.
The boy sitting next to me is wearing a puffy red jacket and headphones. He does not react to any stimuli present in the room; rather, he stares despondently at his phone.
The DB area of Campion is the stillest area of all. Other than classmates who are also jotting, there are two students on their laptops. They appear to be studying, or doing some other activity that requires intense focus.
If students do enter DB, they do not linger; they are only passing through to get to the Dining Hall.
The workers loudly and vibrantly greet students who are grabbing coffee. They are clustered around the cash registers, leaning on or sitting at tables. They speak and laugh loudly, taking full ownership of the area both with their bodies and with the sound they make. These workers seem to be the only people who are not afraid to make noise in this space.
This is the opposite of the students, who are constantly moving and remain silent the entire time.
The dichotomy shifts, however, around 9 am (almost exactly), when students begin entering in noisier groups.