An Eerie Quiet at Nazareth College, Part Two, by Ian Richard Schaefer

An Eerie Quiet at Nazareth College, Part Two, by Ian Richard Schaefer

Nazareth College, April 15th, 2020. Except where indicated all photos by Ian Richard Schaefer

In An eerie quiet at Nazareth College, I visited Nazareth College at the tail end of last week’s snow flurry — which one, you may ask? — and discovered just how deserted, at least visibly, are American educational campuses.

A graduate of Brighton High School, Fordham University with an M.P.A. from SDA Bocconi in Milan, Italy, Ian Richard Schaefer is the Department Assistant at Nazareth’s Department of Italian. Ian and I both took photo excursions on that snowy Wednesday. By the time Ian arrived, the photogenic scenery — the snow on the grass creating a white/green color — had mostly dissipated (soon turning to mud; this is Rochester). Interestingly, only one of our shots was similar.

Natapow Quad, Nazareth College 4/15/20. (left) by David Kramer from An eerie quiet at Nazareth College; (right) by Ian Richard Schaefer

Ian Richard Schaefer, 4/15/20. Snow turning to mud.

While both Ian and I show the emptiness and stillness at Nazareth, Ian also tells how Nazareth is adapting and surviving.

Ian Richard Schaefer [provided by Ian]

An Eerie Quiet at Nazareth College, Part Two, by Ian Richard Schaefer

One of the most popular places to take pictures at Nazareth is the gothic portico that connects Smyth Hall with the Otto Schultz Center, and rightfully so. The covered walkway brings to mind the cloister of a monastery, with a simple stone cross marking the peak of the arched entrance, a sign of the College’s history with the Sisters of St. Joseph.

The cross on the entrance to the portico in front of the door to the Schultz Center. Ian Richard Schaefer, 4/15/20

On a beautiful Rochester Spring day, like this past Wednesday, (a “Rochester Spring” day, of course, includes snow), the bustling corridor would have been packed with students. But of course, not now. Students now take screenshots of their online classes instead.

Ian Richard Schaefer, 4/15/20

The College, as discussed the previous article, An eerie quiet at Nazareth College, is certainly not closed, even though the campus is nearly vacant. It is decentralized; while the beautiful physical campus is closed, the virtual campus has become the computers of its employees and students. My job as secretary for the Italian department has changed significantly. Unfortunately, dinners and trips have been put on pause, but classes and movie showings continue online. Casa Italiana will continue its traditional Wednesday movie nights with Prof. Maria Rosaria Vitti-Alexander throughout the school year using Zoom videoconferences.

Golden Flyers Grill and Deli in the Otto Schultz Center. Ian Richard Schaefer, 4/15/20

Perhaps nobody has had a more unexpected experience than the international students at Nazareth. Many of them were forced to cut their exciting semesters abroad short and return home, like the American students studying in Italy had to do earlier in the year. However, for students from particularly affected areas, this was not an option.

Giovanni Minicucci [Photo provided by Giovanni]

Giovanni Minicucci was so impressed by Rochester and by Nazareth College, he chose to return for another semester here after having already studied here last Spring. Certainly, this semester has not gone as planned, but he is just as certainly making the most of it. In addition to keeping up with an already-busy schedule of online classes, once a week, Giovanni — from Pescara, Italy — hosts a virtual version of his Italian conversation practice sessions. Nazareth also offers the “trapped” students opportunities for online community events, such as trivia or bingo.

What came across most in Giovanni’s interview with is his gratitude to Nazareth College. The College has made sure that the students who had to stay on campus are comfortable and well cared for. Giovanni moved into an on-campus apartment, and the College has helped to provide necessary supplies and food.

Ian Richard Schaefer, 4/15/20

Ian Richard Schaefer, 4/15/20

When flights become available and things begin to open up, students like Giovanni will eventually be able to return home. Life will return to campus: the dinners at Casa Italiana, the students taking photos at the portico. The flowers that bloom and the trees that bud point to the hope of Spring. But for now, the campus waits patiently while the College continues in the homes of students and professors across the country.


An eerie quiet at McQuaid Jesuit High School in Brighton

An eerie quiet at Nazareth College

An eerie quiet at the University of Rochester

An eerie quiet at Rochester Institute of Technology

An eerie quiet at Monroe Community College

An eerie quiet at St. John Fisher College

This series comes to end: An eerie quiet at SUNY Empire State and Medaille Colleges in Brighton

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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