Study Hal: Week 40 – Calm Campus

Hal had to attend to some business in Ann Arbor, so he made the trip over the weekend! He hasn’t been on campus since last January. When he got there, he was shocked by how quiet it was… Maybe it’s the pandemic, maybe it’s because it was a cold Saturday morning in the midst finals season. Whatever the reason, the lack of activity took Hal by surprise.

It seems like a lot of little things have shifted over the past year. It makes sense that campus activity patterns would change like anything else. Still, Hal and I both look forward to the day when north campus, the diag, and the UMMA can be full of people again.

If this is your first time here, welcome! Hal is a graduating senior at U-M, and he’s been studying from home all year. We post updates on Tuesdays, but if you’re itching for more content, check out the backlog on the Study Hal tag!


Living life is art. This theme should be apparent from my ramblings about staring at walls, going to concerts, and having epiphanies. But some moments in life aren’t just moments, they’re events. When people ask me, as I sit crazily out of my mind as an old retired professor, what you were doing on November 6th, 2012 I will answer: holding my breath, and then I’ll proceed to pass out and die.

Let me preface this with the fact that I’m not one for American politics. Everything about it is problematic, semi-unchangeable, and over-hyped. I say this as I read critique on Foucault, drink heinous amounts of coffee, and listen to indie music my red skinny jeans thrive in—take my word as you may. Strictly speaking, I don’t actively support most of what Obama or Romney had to say but in a loose way I wholeheartedly supported Obama. I support the symbol he is for Americans. I support that he sees other humans as people with “rights,” people who deserve to be “equal.” I support him in that he actively supports people who don’t have millions of dollars or even jobs.

Moments before his reëlection (umlaut because I can) I looked at the top fifty pictures of the Obamas. My friend and I almost burst out into tears caused by their sheer cuteness and adorableness. When my President plays peek-a-boo with a child, my heart stops. I played a mental reel of all he did, all he promised, all he didn’t do, all the things he said he wouldn’t do, all the things that happened in these four years. And when the magnificent Rachel Maddow told us the great news, I realized this was an event I could celebrate.

Grabbing my belongings and hopping on a bus (yes, visiting the friend on north campus) I tried picking a song that could fit this moment (I pick 212 by Azealia Banks for all of my moments, so this time was no different…), and I tried thinking beautiful thoughts to help commemorate it (feeling comfortable in not having to flee to Canada or protest everyday in the bitter cold)—all in all, I wanted to do cliché things. And thus I headed to the Diag.

And then I left the Diag.

And then I headed back to the Diag after finding friends.

This event, this moment of post-reëlection on the Diag was an event, it was art. I felt like I was a piece of metal, a stroke of a brush, a lone light bulb, and upside down urinal.

Let me explain.

No other space on campus has that many smiles. No other space on campus has that much racial “diversity”. No other space on campus has that many people simultaneously and spontaneously dancing. No other space on campus has that much, I have to say it, “hope”. No other space on campus has the feeling of that much accomplishment.  No other space on campus has ever heard the words “Obama” or “four more years” so much. No other space on campus was this space on campus.

When people ask what I did on November 6th, 2012 I won’t respond with: I went to class, I caught up with a friend, I waited in line for an hour, I drank coffee. I will say that I voted for Barack Obama who was then reëlected that same evening and that I had never felt as comfortable as I did in the four years that preceded it. That feeling I had, that was art.