By Noah Kotlarek
Autumn has arrived, and we’ve less than three months until 2021. A lot has changed
since that fateful March 9th afternoon when the Office of the President informed us that face-to-face instruction would be suspended. We quickly transitioned to online classes, waited in
uncertainty throughout June and July, and then at summer recess’s end, ultimately returned to
campus— well, some of us. And though administration, professors, faculty, and parents worked
and continue to work tirelessly to prepare for this semester, for which they should be applauded, the semester has inevitably been different.
An embodiment of this difference has been the Fordham cafeteria. In years prior, the
cafeteria was a social Mecca for students. This semester, while not completely eroded, the
cafeteria’s social influence has significantly diminished. This was due mostly in part to the
ruling that students could not sit in the cafeteria but instead had to eat outside or in their rooms.
Yet, there is hope. Recent developments have reclaimed much of the cafeteria’s lost
social influence and mark what I hope might be the beginning of a return to normalcy. We have
autumn to thank. Decreasing temperatures have left the University with no choice but to take
heightened coronavirus risks and, with restrictions, allow for limited seating within the cafeteria.
Rejoice! As of last week, now when you enter the cafeteria you’ll look left and right to see the
booths occupied by students and students seated in pairs at the limited capacity tables. In order
to sit in, students must have their temperature taken and then sign in with their name, room
number, phone number, and sign-in time. Afterwards, they may proceed to collect their food and be seated within the Marketplace walls. The cafeteria is starting to look the cafeteria again.
While this recent change is worthy of celebration, it is also our duty to remain responsible
and aware that just because we can sit in the cafeteria the virus isn’t gone. While leaving the
cafeteria one day I ran into Father McShane. He asked me if I was happy and thanked me for
returning to campus. Just before our interaction was about to end, I added, “Thanks for
organizing all of this so that we can remain on campus,” to which he replied, “Make sure it stays
that way.” So please, enjoy the cafeteria and stay safe.