by Cherryl F. Cercado
photography by Veero Der-Karabetian
At 3:01 a.m., Studebaker-Hanawalt Residence Hall (Stu-Han) takes on a new personality. She is far from boisterous, far from cozy and far from lively. There is not one single peep from one single person or a single creak from a single door. All is silent in Stu-Han.
She is different from the Stu-Han of several hours ago, when friends were meeting in the hallway to make a midnight run to Jack in the Box, while others were coming in from the night to get ready for bed. Different, too, because there is not one soul in the study lounge poking her nose into a book; no one is screaming at the television or playing pool or ping-pong in the main lounge. You will not even run into somebody heating up food in the microwave or see someone in front of the double doors waiting for a guest to arrive.
In the stillness of Stu-Han at 3:43 a.m., the soda machine, imperceptible during the day, now spews out a thunderous rhythmic whir, deafening to the ears. It sings to no one in particular, then abruptly stops.
On the other side of campus, at the Oaks Residence Hall, a student sleeps on the couch of the D-Bottom lobby. When lightly tapped on the shoulder and asked “why,” his only reply is a mumbled and irritated, “Because.”
He rolls away from the voice that is interrupting his slumber. All is quiet on D-Bottom.
At 4:29 a.m., Michelle Ballard, freshman, drowsily makes her way up the stairs of Wing 3 at Stu-Han. Slowly and with some effort, she finally reaches her room. She has just returned from her boyfriend’s house in Pomona, and she is anxious to go to bed. Her first class is Spanish at 8:30 in the morning. But her foremost concern is not sleep. As she puts it, “I don’t want my coach to know about this.”
She disappears in the darkness of her room, careful not to wake her roommate.
The only other creatures that are awake at this time are the beastly-looking possums who speedily and silently scurry from one bush to another. Large enough to make the bravest of souls scream, the possums dominate the terrain, chasing away the stray cats that wander through the University.
In contrast to the quiet of the morning, at 5:03 a.m., a Metrolink train rumbles by the University. The powerful shrill of the train should wake all those who are asleep. But students in the Oaks have become deaf to the passing trains.
Everyone in the Oaks sleeps.
Davenport Dining Hall though, bustles with activity at 5:31 in the morning. Davenport workers arrived at 5 a.m., sharp.
“Bakers come in and start making danishes, muffins and that kind of thing,” says Armen Ananian, food services director for Aramark. “Cooks come in to start making breakfast, and we get ready to open up at 7 o’clock. We have about six people in the kitchen now. Right now we’re making breakfast boxes for the football team because they’re going out of town today.”
Ananian rises at 4 a.m., a time when most students and faculty are still sleeping. He commutes from Glendale, and although the traffic is still fairly light, it takes him about half an hour to reach La Verne.
But, for Rosa Holston, the commute to work is an easy 10 minute drive. Holston, a resident of San Dimas, has been working at Davenport Dining Hall for 23 years. As she stands at the shiny, silver counter fixing the the toppings for breakfast, she describes her years at La Verne.
“The first few years, I came [to work] at about 8 in the morning,” she says. “After that, I’ve been coming in at 5 a.m.”
Since she rises early, bedtime for Holston is 9:30 at night. She tries to strictly abide by that regiment, but she shyly admits, “If there’s a good movie on TV, then I’ll stay up for that, and I’ll go to bed at 11.”
During her 23 years at La Verne, Holston has seen many students try to sneak into Davenport Dining Hall without their meal card during the breakfast and lunch hour. She is more amused than annoyed with the excuses students give her. As some would say, she has perfected the craft of capturing students and is considered an expert.
“Usually, I try to catch them before they get all the way in. Sometimes, I don’t get a chance to catch them before I get in, so when I get a chance to leave my desk, I’ll go and ask them to pay for the meal.
“Most of them are surprised and can’t figure out how I caught them. Some of them come from the different doors,” she says with a sly laugh. “I don’t know; I think a lot of it is instinct, more or less. I have a feel that someone’s coming in from that door or the other door.”
While workers at Davenport anticipate the morning breakfast crowd that is yet to wake, Clifton Tiddle, campus safety agent, at 5:45 a.m is carefully raising the United States’ and the University’s flags.
“Actually, this is the hardest part of my job, trying not to let the flags touch the ground,” he says seriously. He adds, after a brief pause and a slight chuckle, “You can quote me on that, and then after that you could say, ‘He joked.'”
Tiddle assumes his security position at midnight and does not end his shift until 8 o’clock in the morning. During that time, he is responsible for patrolling the campus, checking doors and making sure that various alarms are armed. In the residence halls, he checks for propped doors and open windows. He also provides the escort service during this time period.
At 6 a.m., the two flags hang limply, despite the slight breeze. Signs of life are starting to appear as people start to frequent various locations of the campus. But all is still quiet in Stu-Han. Except for the soda machine.