Life after corona: A journey through the wilds of UVic

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Photo sourced via Pixabay

It’s been four months since the initial outbreak. Four months since the world was tipped upside down by a deadly strain of coronavirus known as COVID-19. Five months since COVID-19 began its deadly spread from a wet market in Wuhan, China and infected every continent on the planet except for Antarctica. It’s hard to believe that it was only four months ago that everything changed…

With students still hunkered down in their homes across the globe, the once-bustling UVic campus — once filled with caffeine and the tears of undergrads in equal measure — is now little more than a ghost town. The only recognizable element is Petch Fountain, outside the remnants of McPherson Library, which keeps on bubbling as if Campus Security is still there to protect it from getting entered by delinquent first years. Outside of that, the university that we once knew and couldn’t wait to escape is hardly recognizable.

The quad is an overgrown mess of grass, with the occasional forgotten Blundstone and slackline still dotting the landscape. The nostalgia-inducing smell of freshly burnt coffee, which surprisingly could still be faintly smelt days after UVic’s closure, is long gone from BiblioCafé. 

With no students, staff, or faculty around, UVic’s wildlife have slowly come out in full force from their homes in Mystic Vale and the woods around Ring Road, reclaiming the land as their own. Deer, a common site before the closure, now roam freely in great numbers, eating leaves off trees and trampling through the thick grass across campus. They have also taken to wandering the halls of Cornett and Clearihue eating any scraps of paper they can find that was left behind by students cramming for midterms. UVic’s rabbit population has also returned to levels not seen since they were supposedly shipped off to East Texas in 2010. They have now taken to making holes anywhere they choose and are, as rabbits do, breeding like mad. In fact, the dead-end stairway of Cornett has now caved in due to those pesky rabbits. And as for the ducks, those quackers have taken up residence in Petch Fountain, the flood in David Turpin, and anywhere they can find water.

The most interesting sight, though, can be seen inside the Michael Williams Building where deer have taken over the offices of UVic’s administrators, with the lead buck occupying newly resigned UVic President Jamie Cassels’s office. The rumour is that in their panic to grab all documents pertaining to fossil fuel investments and international student tuition hikes, UVic’s administrators left the front doors to the building wide open, thus allowing for its takeover by the surrounding animal kingdom. Unlike the previous occupants of this building, the deer can often be seen out and about on campus, interacting with other inhabitants of the university. 

On the whole, the academic buildings have remained largely intact — although, to be fair, they were pretty post-apocalyptic to begin with. Cornett remains the same twisting, turning nightmare, with its nonsensical wings and stairways that lead to nowhere, while Clearihue has only become a bit more of a disheveled mess with its dimly lit hallways lending it the air of A Nightmare on Elm Street. MacLaurin no longer carries the sounds of music students pulling 16-hour days practicing for their recitals. As for the dungeon of David Turpin, it no longer sees students longing for sunlight as their professor drones on about political theory or calculus — so really, things are looking up.

All the while, wildlife roams freely with not a human being in sight. 

The difference a few weeks can make is shocking. It’s only been three weeks since we were all told to go home. Three weeks since we were forced to hole up inside our homes. It is hard to believe it’s only been this long….