Tonight I had a meeting on campus that ran past 5 pm, and when I emerged from the building, the sky was darkening and the street lamps were glowing.
During the day, the college campus is an academic domain. Students wax and wane on the sidewalks according to the timing of the day's class period. The cafeteria and coffee shops host as much studying as socializing. As I walk the halls and the paths, I feel like this is my home -- a place where everyone is doing what I am doing.
But at night, I was reminded during my walk home, the campus belongs to the students. Only a few stray classes are still meeting. Instead of going from classroom to classroom, students are congregating around their residence halls. Sorority girls in evening dresses are climbing the steps to Main Hall to attend a function in the auditorium. A praise band is setting up for a campus ministry event near the registrar's office.
It's not my place anymore when night falls. I am just an tourist passing through, tolerated by the locals but with no special claim on the place. Every so often, it's good to be reminded that the college campus exists for the sake of academics, but as a community where people spend whole years of their lives much more goes on than the academic realm can circumscribe.