On Brown’s campus this weekend, some students were carrying boxes and packing up cars. 

“The best comparison I can make is to graduation. Except it's way sadder,” said sophomore Eyal Levin. He was heading home to San Francisco right after he finished storing all of his stuff in a friend’s basement. “The airport there is probably one of the worst in terms of coronavirus because the Bay Area's fairly infected. And I just want to get home and get to my parents without giving them the coronavirus.”

But the mood wasn’t all dark. Other students were hanging out in the sun, like members of the women’s rugby team, who were sampling a new playlist to capture the mood.

Senior Marion Sellier listed the songs, “‘Toxic,’ ‘Mask Off,’ ‘Sicko Mode,’ ‘Unwell,’ ‘Don't Stand So Close To Me,’ ‘Staying Alive’ by the Bee Gees.”  The music lightened the mood around the abrupt end to their rugby season.

“The athletics department had a meeting, maybe like 11am one day, and they came back saying, ‘As far as we know, the season is still on, we're still going’” Sellier explained. “Three hours later, the entire Ivy League canceled every season. And it's a very unceremonious end to the four years. These are kind of the last months where you're like, ‘I get to kind of enjoy like all the work I put in,’ and that's over now.”

The students were quick to point out that some of their peers have more serious concerns. Abby O'Keefe added, “Students who have on-campus jobs and rely on that for their income are really suffering.”

Another student mentioned a community Google Doc where people are offering housing, transportation, storage, and other supplies for anyone in need. 

The university announced Saturday, students living in dorms have until 5 P.M. Tuesday, March 17, to move out, and Brown is encouraging those who live off-campus to travel home. For some students, like Sophia Tu, going home isn’t so simple. “I'm from Westchester, and it's not looking good in Westchester. So I'm petitioning to stay.” International students whose home countries are affected by the spread of coronavirus as well as students who would experience financial stress traveling are among those petitioning the university to remain on campus. 

As students leave campus, keeping up with schoolwork online poses new challenges. Vivian Yuen, who studies chemistry and conducts much of her academic work in a lab, knows that school won’t be the same from home. “I'm just kind of worried in terms of, like, what school is gonna turn out to be. Quite frankly, I'm not really great at online learning and self learning. And I do research for credit, which obviously I can't do anymore because all my research is experimental.”

The students aren’t just missing out on hands-on learning. The closure means no more late night dorm conversations, no bench research, no rugby games. 

For seniors, the outbreak is a blunt end to their college experience. Marion Sellier reflected, “Just having it be so abrupt when we don’t have the two and a half months to say goodbye is just heartbreaking.”

Still, other students are finding comfort in this transition, especially after the university announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Saturday. “Honestly, I'm kind of, like, excited to go home,” said this first-year student from Shanghai. “Because the situation back in China is a lot better now than it was. Like, the cases are not growing in numbers. But here, it is growing. At least I'll be with family, and I'll feel a bit safer.”

The university is supporting their students through this unprecedented transition by providing a pro-rated refund on housing costs and providing $150 to each student who receives financial aid. Additional funds are available through an application. The university has not decided whether or not Commencement and Reunion weekend will proceed as usual at the end of May.