Penn State’s Campus When (Almost) Everyone Is At The White Out: A Quiet, But Still Lively, Haven
Twenty minutes before the most anticipated home game of the year kicks off at Beaver Stadium, and the Blue Loop is surprisingly crowded.
It’s standing-room-only as usual, and a man wearing a Michigan basketball jersey is smiling through the chants of “Fuck this kid!” from a handful of probably-drunk Penn State fans surrounding him. He has walked into a white-clad hornets’ nest, and he knows it. He’s a good sport, though, and simply replies, “Go Blue!” with a chuckle.
The bus’s route has been abbreviated by road closures near East Halls, with eight stops shaved off, to be exact. Kickoff is now just four minutes away, and there are only six people on the bus. It’s quite cold without the body heat emitted from the normally overwhelming crowds on board.
I get off at the Pavilion Theater stop to go see what’s up at the Creamery. A girl sitting on the bus-stop bench starts a We Are chant. I’m the only person to respond, and I can tell she feels a little awkward because of it. She doesn’t even bother to say the “thank you” part at the end.
As expected, the Creamery is uncharacteristically quiet, with no one in line and just twelve people sitting inside. It’s so quiet that you can hear Paramore’s “The Only Exception” playing at low volume on the radio behind the counter. I figure I might as well get a scoop of ice cream while I capture the journalistic scoop in this temporary ghost town. Of course, I got the White Out flavor, which tastes a lot like butter, but isn’t so bad after the first few licks.
Next stop; the library. Upon entering through the Curtain Road entrance, which is not the building’s rear entrance, I’m greeted by the welcome desk attendant, Jada Warner, who says the library staff enjoys the unusually desolate environment.
“It is pretty awesome,” they said. “It’s the best time of the day and also the best day of the week to get homework done and be working and getting paid, because there’s no one here, so it’s very relaxing, very low-stress, nothing at all compared to how it is in the morning.”
As I head into the media commons, however, I’m baffled by how many students I see. Dozens of students, most of whom have headphones in, sit quietly at computers as they study.
Unfortunately, although it’s football season, it’s midterm season too. One student who asked to remain anonymous explained that she simply didn’t have enough time this weekend to go to the White Out.
“I didn’t go to the game because I have two exams coming up this week, and I also have a friend coming to visit, and a lab report due, so I just didn’t have time to do my work during the week,” she said.
She’s got a hefty workload evidently as she color-codes her many pages of notes with a variety of markers. She’s studying for material science engineering exams.
Another student, who also asked to remain anonymous, is studying for his computer science class.
“Got an exam, bro,” he said, adding that he enjoys the peace and quiet. “It’s nice. I don’t miss the crowd, for sure. Starbucks has a shorter line.”
Another student is just sitting quietly after a day of tailgating.
“It was too much money to buy the tickets this year,” said Chris Reich, a sophomore majoring in management. “I’m just sitting and enjoying the quiet until the game is over.”
In the HUB, there’s a large crowd near the Pollock Road entrance, gathered in front of the giant TV screen and watching, of course, the game. They erupt into cheers and applause when KJ Hamler glides into the end zone on an apparent touchdown play, and sigh in disappointment when the score is waved off due to a penalty.
Blair Cooper, an alumnus, is one of the fans here who opted to watch the game rather than attend it.
“I want to save money, so that’s why I didn’t pay for a ticket to go to the White Out game, otherwise I would love to go,” he said. “But I figure watching it among Penn State fans is the best way to make up for it.”
Soon the game is over, and as hoarse-voiced fans stream from Beaver Stadium, noise is breathed back into the veins of campus as the crowds fill campus’s narrow streets. Now things are back to normal. But for a brief moment, a quiet, but still lively campus made for the perfect stroll on a Saturday night.
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