At ‘Suitcase Schools’ Around the Country, Friday Means It’s Time to Leave

Ann McClure's picture

On any given Saturday, Central Connecticut State University is nearly empty. No Frisbee flinging, no lingering over lattes at Jazzman’s Cafe and Bakery. The library closes at 3:45, the cafeteria at 6:30 sharp.

“It’s like this almost every weekend,” says Andrew Pegg, a sophomore, sitting under blue skies at a gracious plaza at the heart of campus, in sleepy New Britain. A few like-minded friends have stuck around. But “it’s hard to play a pickup football game with only four guys,” he says. “I watch a lot of TV. I’ve got Netflix.”

Almost half of Central’s 7,700 full-time undergraduates live in dorms or near campus. But most vanish each Friday, joining the army of undergraduates at “suitcase schools” around the country who desert their campuses on weekends.

They head home for the same reasons suitcase students always have: favorite meals, moms (and now dads) still willing to do their laundry, high school friends and sweethearts, and jobs. The refrain “There’s nothing to do on campus” is self-fulfilling. With events sparsely attended on weekends (homecoming excluded), little is scheduled. And the exodus is increasingly facilitated by a seamless arc of tweets, texts and calls between dorm and hometown and friends elsewhere.

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