Closed campus brought together by pizza


Shariliz Poveda

Andrew Hanson, senior coordinator for Residence Life and Student Conduct, takes a selfie after the Domino’s delivery man dropped off boxes of pizza while dressed as a pizza.

Shariliz Poveda, Reporter

After the Easy Fire broke out, prompting evacuations and road closures in Simi Valley, California Lutheran University closed on Wednesday, Oct. 30 and Thursday, Oct. 31. Despite the campus closure, students and staff still worked to provide a sense of community and holiday spirit by throwing an impromptu pizza party in the Student Union on Halloween day.

Madeline Liberti, coordinator for community service, was one of the organizers of the pizza party. Dressed as a dinosaur, Liberti handed out plates of pizza and welcomed students entering the Student Union.

“[Staff] just wanted to make sure students knew they had something to do while campus was closed,” Liberti said. “Hopefully anyone who has been affected feels like we have the support here to help them however we can.”

The pizza was originally catered by PizzaMan Dan’s, but due to high turnout, staff ordered more from Domino’s Pizza.

Snickers, M&M’s, Skittles and other candy was provided by Residence Life “to be in the spirit of Halloween,” Liberti said.

Students came and went from the Student Union, some grabbing food and leaving, others staying to chat with friends or to play games.

Maddie Stuart, a first-year student, came by to eat pizza with a friend.

Stuart said she had initially left campus with her roommate on Wednesday because of smoke, but once they saw it had cleared they came back to campus to “stick it out” and not “be a hassle” for her roommate’s parents.

Stuart said she wanted to get in the Halloween spirit, so she came dressed in a Harry Potter T-shirt and Gryffindor scarf.

“I love this holiday. I think a lot of people really do,” Stuart said. “And I think we just need to be optimistic and really do whatever we can even though we have the fires going on. So we need to be supportive for other people but also you know, enjoy the day that we’ve been given.”

Adeline Rodriguez, another first-year student, shared similar sentiments. Rodriguez said she came to the Student Union because there wasn’t much else happening on campus. Rodriguez said she is a California native and wasn’t scared of the fires.

Sophomore Xavier Reynoso dressed as Snoopy while his roommate, sophomore Juan Gonzalez, dressed up as Linus from the Peanuts gang.

The two students originally had a bigger group to create the whole Peanuts gang but it fell through due to the fire, Reynoso said.

“It’s nice that the campus is willing to do something despite the rest of campus being closed,” Gonzalez said.

Both of them said they felt the pizza was a nice distraction from the fires.

Jonathan Gonzales, senior coordinator for cultural engagement and inclusion, was another staff member at the event.

“We want[ed] to create a space for students to feel safe, to still feel in community with each other,” Jonathan Gonzales said. “They can utilize the games, the space to socialize. So it’s pretty cool to see so many people utilizing the space on a day when the university is closed.”

Despite the campus closure, Elizabeth Bugtai, a senior commuter, had to come in for her shift as a Student Union receptionist.

“I don’t mind,” Bugtai said. “I actually grew up in Thousand Oaks and since I wasn’t affected by the fires, I definitely wanted to do my part and just help people come into the Student Union and be able to hang out and spend time here and know that they’re safe.”

Students kept Bugtai busy, checking out card games, video games and asking her general questions about the space.

“I think this is what really grasps the idea of CLU and how we’re a community and how we stay together,” Bugtai said. “Even during difficult times we still try and make the most of it cause it is Halloween and we just want everyone to be safe.”