It is almost impossible to imagine what someone might do on campus in the predawn hours on a weekday. Most dutiful Hillsdalians traffic the same few buildings and walk across the same sidewalks to the same desks in the library almost every day of the week, and then turn back to go home by 2 a.m., at the latest, when the Grewcock Student Union closes.
But on April 8th, even between 3 and 6 a.m., darting rabbits and singing birds aren’t the only signs of life on Hillsdale’s campus.
Any student who finds himself wandering campus at this time may very well encounter a wonderful man named Keen Chen, who cleans the library between 11:30 p.m. and 8 a.m. every day. Keen and his coworker, Elaine Jermeay, ensure that the library returns to tip-top shape after a full day of student abuse. The two, when asked to describe their late work, spoke in near unison saying the library late at night would be best described as “spooky.” The ducts make creaking noises which, without the hum-drum of students, sound particularly ominous, and the emptiness of the large building, they said, can be unnerving.
Jermeay described being startled at about 3 a.m. one morning by a student who fell asleep on her desk and woke up in the empty building after-hours, asking to be let out of the building. Both Jermeay and Chen have worked in the custodial service long enough to also remember students sneaking into the library through the tunnel system after-hours. The tunnel entrance bears witness to these late-night shenanigans, with pairs of names wrapped in hearts, written in years past by the finger of some rebel Romeo on dusty ductwork.
Both Jermeay and Chen also made subtle reference to chairs moving on their own, but these reports remain unconfirmed.
If a late-night explorer continues wandering past Mossey, they would meet Colleen Taite, who has cleaned the Grewcock overnight for almost a year now, between 11:30 p.m. and 8 a.m.. She says she appreciates the quiet, which allows her extra productivity. With all the woodwork in the union, she noted especially “lots of detailing, lots of dusting.”
Taite readily expresses her love for the students she meets late at night in the union, and one of her favorite things is bringing zucchini bread made from her garden to students around holiday time. Students, she said, sometimes need a break from cafeteria food.
“These students are so good to me, and when it’s homemade, I like doing it,” she said.
Hillsdale street contains a surprising number of commuters in the hours preceding 5 a.m., though human activity of any other kind is limited.
The first visible college activity is a black sedan arriving at the sports complex precisely at 5 a.m., and the occupant calls on the security patrol to get inside.
The award for earliest-riser-hardest-worker for the morning of April 8th goes to senior Dan Maisonville, found walking up to campus at 5:30 a.m.. He said he arrives at that time to study in the peace and quiet of an empty Grewcock: today for a biochemistry exam. His strategy of buying an AJ’s coffee the night before and then chugging it cold the next morning seems brutal, but effective. He said most other students he sees don’t arrive to study until closer to 6:30.
The first large-scale activity did not pick up until 5:45, with the arrival of various stocky individuals in tank tops at the Roche Sports Complex.
A spring night on Hillsdale’s campus is a beautiful thing. There are also many kind people who take care of the buildings while we all sleep. Hillsdale at night is a very different world, but definitely one worth a visit.