by Judy Polanco
photography by Starr Carroll
Gently guiding the thin blue bar upwards with his attention never wavering from the clock as the seconds countdown, senior Luis Lua waits for the perfect split second to mark his arrival. Before silence can attack the airwaves, he draws the microphone near with his right hand, clears his throat, and depresses a single red-squared button on a control board that looks like you would need a flight manual to operate.
“It’s six o’clock, and you’re listening to 550 KULV with Luis Lua.” Lua, wearing a half-grin, knows that it was a perfect announcement. For the next two hours, Natalie Merchant, Alanis Morrisette, and Beck will be the only company Lua will know.
In the room next door to the KULV studio, Echelle Avelar, sophomore, and Eric Bishop, assistant professor of journalism, are putting the finishing touches on Avelar’s sport story. Her page is filled with various red geometric figures and foreign symbols that only a trained journalist would know how to decipher in a second. Bishop reads a line and raises his eyebrows, revealing a devilish grin in his eyes and face. Avelar knows what is coming next, and, before she even has the opportunity to reach for it, Bishop hands her a seemingly friendly paperback book, “Consult the style guide,” he says in a stern but smirking tone. “It will be done tonight,” she says. We’ll be here until 10,” Bishop concludes.
The blinds are drawn in the commuter lounge. The lights are on, but the door is closed. Small chunks of dirt and grass sprinkle the lounge entry way. The mumbling of deep voices are barely audible, as two players of the football team are involved in a meeting with Coach Jim Lynch. He is actively instructing Sotero Alarcon and Nathan Robinson on new plays for this weekend’s game against Sonoma State. “We’ve had to make some position changes because of injuries,” says Lynch. Determined to learn these “last minute changes,” Alarcon and Robinson look so serious that not even the echoes and vibrations of whistles and running feet from the gym floor above can grab their attention away.
A single navy blue baseball cap emerges from within the pages of a threateningly thick sociology book. It is half past six o’clock, and Maynard McClarion has been tackling two tasks at once for the last 10 minutes. Not only is McClarion overseeing the workout area, he is also preparing for his first test of this semester. He is unsure of the contents of the test, unsure of what exactly to study, and unsure of how he will perform. But he is certain about one thing, “right now, it’s kind of grim.” With uncertainties written all over his face, McClarion stares out into the distance for a brief respite and then apprehensively turns the page. In the distance, the theme song for the “Simpsons” plays to an audience of no one.
Humid air smelling like decades of sweat permeate throughout the Hanawalt Fitness Center weight room. The clinging and clacking of weights are in rhythm to the Metallica song playing. With one final exhausting exhale, Jeff Pang completes eight repetitions of a decline bench press with 70 pounds gripped in his hands. Pang is joined with his regular work out partner J.R. Gonsalves, who have both been going strong for the past 45 minutes. For the next hour and 15 minutes, Pang and Gonsalves will continue to “work out hard.” “When I go home I stink, but that’s because I work out hard,” says Gonsalves.
Copper toned waves are laid to rest in the evening sky announcing the arrival of a shy crescent moon and the seven o’clock hour. As the night embraces the ULV campus, five classroom lights are made visible in Founders Hall. A white sports car stealthily squeezes into the last available parking stall on Third Street.
At the same time, a dark colored jeep pulls up to the crosswalk to unload a passenger. From a scene reminiscent of a grade school child, graduate student Ryan Plescha leans over the car seat to kiss his wife good-bye. As Plescha steps out of the jeep, he throws his backpack over his right shoulder and heads toward Founders Hall. His wife waits until he reaches the top of the stairs before she begins to pull away. Plescha looks over his right shoulder to catch a quick glimpse before entering the building that he will reside in for the next three hours.
Across the way, a tall thin figured shadow blankets the sidewalk of the side entrance to the chapel. Sounds from a locked door and clattered keys mix with the vibrations from automobiles whizzing by on Bonita Avenue. In an instant, the shadow discloses its creator – security guard Tom Pokorski. Pokorski is “making the rounds” dressed in a white-collared shirt, midnight blue shorts and black tennis shoes. His muddy shoes squeak against the wet grass, leaving a trail of footprints to the entrance of Brandt Hall.
It’s 7:10 p.m., and the bottom floor of Brandt is dark and desolate. The only signs of life are the culminations of various songs piercing the air. Freshman Grant Acosta takes advantage of the unpopulated hallway and finds a brief moment of privacy while he is speaking to his girlfriend on the phone. Everyday, Acosta talks with the girlfriend he misses. But this evening he won’t have to miss his girlfriend from afar. Tonight he is “getting directions to where she is staying.”
There is one open door at the end of the hallway. Inside room 101, the only thing on is the television set tuned in to “Buzz.” The set sprays traces of light throughout the room. Pathways to the door, restroom and beds are through the abundance of dirty laundry strewn on the floor. On the bottom bunk is junior Kyprian Harasymowycz, recuperating from volleyball practice. In a single bed placed against the north wall lies his brother Greg, wrapped in a beige sheet sound asleep. At 7:20 p.m. neither Kyprian nor the slumbering Greg are ready to call it a night.
“I’m just lying down for now. Actually, I have some accounting to finish,” says Kyprian in a relaxed tone of voice.
Two floors up, freshmen Farrah Kahn and Maxine Mitchell are mentally preparing to do some pre-calculus homework. But before the studying can begin, Mitchell informs Kahn that “Paul stopped by.””Oh, he did.” Immediately Kahn gets on the phone to talk with her friend Paul. Pre-cal homework can wait but speaking with Paul can’t; it’s urgent.
At the other end of the campus, fully lit Miller Hall distinguishes itself from the darkness. Even at 8 p.m., numerous conversations and vocal variations echo throughout the building. But these voices are not from students conversing about class; instead they are the voices of telecounselors. Inputting facts and figures into a computer can be tedious. However, junior Jaime Alarcon Jr. passes the time by listening to the radio in between conversations with potential ULV students.
The dinner crowd at the Spot came and went two hours ago. The line is short with only three people. Sitting at a booth eating a chicken sandwich and thumbing through a philosophy book is Greg. Greg’s nap recharged his energy level, and at 8:30 p.m. he is wide awake and fully coherent. His goal is to be done studying “at the latest 11:30 p.m.” For now, he will continue to learn words such as “metaphysics” and “monotheism”-all necessary truth gulped in between bites of his crispy sandwich.
Besides the Spot, the only other place with the most activity is Wilson Library. At first glance, it looks to be too quiet even for a library. There is only one student on the reference terminal. Unwinding from a busy and tiring day of school, freshman Christie Smith types in the key words “San Francisco.”
“I’m planning a vacation for December to go backpacking,” says a yawning Smith.
In the background, Kyprian walks to the computer lab. Six students are utilizing the computers for various reasons. Some have procrastinated long enough that they are squeezing every last second out of the minutes; others are getting a head start, while Kyprian checks his e-mail. He eagerly answers the three messages from friends back home in Buffalo.
At 9 p.m., an exhausted Kyprian reassesses his day. He has done his accounting homework, he ate dinner, and he has studied. But there is still one thing he and the majority of ULV students have left to do – sleep.