By Emily DeWitt
While many were ordered to stay home as COVID-19 continued to spread, many chose to continue work to ensure communities and businesses would stay afloat – including University of Mississippi students.
The spring semester for students was anything but ordinary. While classes were moved online and students were asked to return to their hometowns for the remainder of the semester, some students still found themselves returning to Oxford.
Madison Scarpino and Kristen Bentley, both students at Ole Miss, made the decision to return to Oxford post-spring break. Scarpino, who works at Social Wine and Whiskey House, and Bentley, who works at Jinsei Sushi, found themselves returning to continue to earn money. They, as well as many others, wanted to live out their last few months as college students.
“I wanted to come back to Oxford so I can continue to work and make money, be in an environment where I can get my schoolwork done as efficiently as possible, and so I could enjoy Oxford my last few months I have here,” Scarpino said.
For the class of 2020, not being able to return to Oxford has been challenging. Their year has been cut short in an instant, and many are still uncertain of what this means for their future and graduation.
“As a senior, I’m trying to soak up every little bit of this town before I leave,” Bentley said.
Both students feel Oxford businesses have taken a hit economically, but those that are staying open are able to fill to-go orders. Bentley felt that the Oxford community was being incredibly understanding. She noticed many were being more generous with tips because they know every little bit counts.
“Oxford is definitely more of a ghost town these days, but I’m noticing so many more people out to exercise or just to get out of the house,” Bentley said. “As a whole, we’re remembering what makes life beautiful beyond our phones in our faces and drinks in our hand at the bar.”
In the midst of uncertain times, it is important that there is still a sense of community even if gathering isn’t an option. Oxford and the Ole Miss community both have proven to be family first, and it comes to light especially in times like this.
“I think Oxford is doing the best job they can,” Bentley said. “I give the most props to Mayor Tannehill for being so proactive and helpful to everyone during such a confusing and upsetting time. She’s been fantastic.”