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Students respond with anxiety, flock to buy food as news spreads of new restrictions

<p>The line at the Lobby Shop was out the door as students flocked to buy food in advance of Duke's announcement of a "stay-in-place" directive, although the final directive said students could leave their rooms or come to campus to buy food.&nbsp;</p>

The line at the Lobby Shop was out the door as students flocked to buy food in advance of Duke's announcement of a "stay-in-place" directive, although the final directive said students could leave their rooms or come to campus to buy food. 

"I put my phone on do not disturb today, only to turn it on and see the world falling apart," sophomore Victoria McReynolds said.

As leaked news spread across campus Saturday evening of plans for new temporary restrictions on campus life, students rushed to purchase food and shared what could be their final meals together for some time. Duke would eventually announce a "stay in place" order, with restrictions on when on-campus students can leave their rooms and when off-campus students can come to campus, among others.

Around 7 p.m. Saturday, the Bryan Center plaza was filled with groups of people walking and grabbing last meals. Inside the Bryan Center, the line to the Duke Lobby Shop has gone out the door. Some students were there to grab toilet paper, while others walked out with bags filled with snacks. (The final announcement noted that students could leave their rooms to buy food.) 

The Brodhead Center was full of chatter. Students asked each other, "Did you hear the news?" and "How are you?" Other students sat in groups on Abele and Craven quads.


The Bryan Center plaza was packed Saturday night. Leah Boyd


Sophomore Gabi Underwood described feeling anxious about the situation.

“Nothing like this happened last semester,” she said. “This almost reminds me of what happened a year ago.” She noted that she feared that shutdowns may last through the end of the semester.

Alanna Manfredini, also a a first-year, said she appreciated that Duke was trying to keep students safe. She was concerned, however, about how she would finish some school projects this week—and what the news meant for the rest of the semester.

"I feel blindsided. There was so little knowledge about it," first-year Ray Lennon said. "I'm not annoyed about it as a concept, but it was just so rapid." 

The new restrictions came three days after Duke announced that off-campus fraternity rush events connected to the newly formed Durham Interfraternity Council had contributed to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Administrators wrote in their eventual Saturday evening announcement that the restrictions were designed to contain a surge in cases "principally driven by students attending recruitment parties for selective living groups."

"I’m feeling kind of frustrated. I don’t know what fraternities are doing. I don’t understand why people are so selfish," sophomore Ashley Chen said. 

Durham IFC President Will Santee, a junior, had earlier told The Chronicle that no Durham IFC groups should hold in-person rush. Asked for comment Saturday about the new restrictions, Santee wrote in an email that Durham IFC would put out a statement Monday. 

East Campus was quiet Saturday evening, in contrast to the hubbub on West. The Giles common room was quiet enough to hear a pin drop. 

For first-year Josh Jacobs, who was sitting on the Alspaugh bench, it felt like "the calm before the storm."

"A lot of people, including myself, went to West to get food and stock up at the [Lobby Shop]," Jacobs said. "I've never seen it like that."

Jacobs said that he had just gotten his COVID-19 vaccine.

"I'm disappointed because a lot of people are starting to get vaccinated... and there's noting we can do," he said, adding that he would not be able to see a friend in the army who was leaving this week.

The announcement came just after 8 p.m.: an email from Duke's administration and a DukeALERT telling students to check their emails. Two students boarded the C1 bus at the East Campus stop, one reading the email aloud. 

Matthew Griffin contributed reporting.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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