Restaurants and other buildings on campus are likely to remain muted for the entirety of the Fall semester as Boston University tries to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
These changes could stay in place through the Spring semester, depending on how the pandemic unfolds.
BU spokesperson Colin Riley wrote in an email that the University will evaluate whether it is possible to accommodate in-person dining next semester, but the situation is unclear.
“Dining Services will evaluate these spaces again to determine if they are viable to open in the spring,” Riley wrote, “The seating plans for all of our retail locations were approved by the Boston Public Health department. Any changes to the seating plans regulations will come from BPH.”
A walk through the George Sherman Union reveals a far different picture than in previous semesters. Gone are the days of the GSU being the bustling heart of campus as the building takes on a far quieter atmosphere and tables are occupied by only one or two masked individuals.
College of Arts and Sciences senior Angelica Breece-Sullivan said the renovations to the GSU are nice, but the lack of activity has changed it. She described the energy as “a little intense.”
“I went in there to do work and spend really long periods of time in there and eat with friends,” Breece-Sullivan said. “[Now], all the seats are separate, which is a must, but the atmosphere has definitely changed a lot this year.”
Jayden Ma, a junior in the College of Engineering, said he believes restaurants offering primarily take-out is the safest option.
“I think it’s for the best because it’s safer that way,” Ma said. “It sucks, you can’t eat out with your friends anymore, but I think it’s appropriate given the current pandemic and the current environment, so I’m fine with that.”
Restaurant and dining hall changes have gained the most attention, but other buildings on campus have also undergone adjustments to accommodate virtual events.
Both the Tsai Performance Center and Booth Theater will be devoid of audiences and Marsh Chapel will also be closed for in-person services. Riley wrote that Sunday Catholic Mass may resume in person later in the semester.
“I think most events this Fall will be virtual,” Riley said.“[Marsh Chapel] is a unique space, obviously, because of its support for the religious aspects of the community. They may have some more latitude.”
Ma said he thinks “watered-down” clubs and the lack of events will hurt campus life.
“The student activities at BU is kind of what made me fall in love with BU,” Ma said. “I think they’re doing the best that they can but I think it definitely is disappointing … especially so for first-years, who are trying to look for a new undergraduate kind of lifestyle.”
Breece-Sullivan said she understands that virtual events are necessary, but that there are ways to still put on in-person events.
“I’m in a Dance Theater Group and we’re trying to do events on Nickerson Field and other places outside,” Breece-Sullivan said. “I think it really comes down to if your organization or your group is willing to put in the effort to do those.”
WBUR, Boston’s public radio station located on campus, will also find its physical location empty this semester as events and programs remain online.
Alex Schneps, the events and programming manager for WBUR’s CitySpace, said the venue will not be used for the remainder of this year, and prospects for 2021 are still uncertain.
“At this time, we want to focus on what we’re good at and what we’re capable of offering,” Schneps said, “and making sure that what we do offer … does give our audience and the general public the same sort of services that they have come to expect from us.”