On-campus resident numbers plummet as spring quarter begins

EWU moves all on-campus residents into two dorms in response to widespread campus closures

On-campus+resident+numbers+plummet+as+spring+quarter+begins

Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner

By Karlee Van De Venter, Reporter

Students living on campus this year were heavily impacted by COVID-19. When the decision came that all spring quarter classes would be online, residents had to decide whether they would move out or stay on campus. 

On March 12, the housing department announced that students living on campus could request to move out without the processing/cancellation fee of $150. Students would only need to fill out a housing exception form and move out by March 20. Thousands of students had to make an important decision and follow through within eight days. 

Finals week saw a lot of move-outs as students made their decisions. The housing department clarified that March 20 was a tentative deadline, and would still make exceptions for students moving out past then. Spring break saw a continuation of move-outs. 

Associate Vice President for Campus Life Josh Ashcroft said there are currently only 200 students planning to live on campus for spring quarter. There are another 250 currently on campus, but will move out once the Stay-At-Home order allows them to do so. Before spring break, there were around 1,530 students on campus.

The housing department wants students to have a safe place to stay. Students who cannot safely move out yet are able to temporarily stay on campus, after updating housing staff.      

When EWU announced that all spring quarter classes would be online, many students decided to move out. Without any in-person classes to attend, it was financially viable to move home. Students considered factors like finances, safety and employment. 

Those who decided to continue living on campus saw a lot of changes as well. According to an email sent out by snyamncut Residential Life Coordinator Josh Scroggins, life in the dorms will be impacted. Students are encouraged to practice social distancing, talk to staff electronically and isolate if sick. 

“The best way to practice social distancing is to stay in your room as much as possible,” Scroggins said. “No hanging out in lounges or other common areas.”

Students were also encouraged to stay six feet away from others, wash their hands whenever they leave or enter a room and contact everyone electronically only. However, the importance of socializing was not forgotten by the housing department. Scroggins said they are hoping to have online events that allow residents to talk to each other. 

The number of campus residents dropped significantly. Students were moved into two residence halls: Pearce and snyamncut. All other residence halls are now empty and nonfunctional. Everyone staying on campus received a single room, charged only with the lower double room rate of $2,368. This was to further isolate students and keep them safe. 

Junior Allison Connolly was moved into Pearce Hall from Dressler. While moving buildings, visitors were allowed to help move, but only after forms were filled out in advance. Aside from moving, no residents are allowed to have guests. 

While the school has had to make a lot of big decisions in a short amount of time, Connolly felt like she was kept up to date. 

“Once they finally decided which dorms were open,” Conolly said, “it was quick to find out where I was moving.” 

Freshman JuleAnna Jenson was already living in Pearce, and got to keep her room. The biggest change Jenson has noticed was how quiet the hall has been. 

“I didn’t want to move back home,” said Jenson. “I’m very glad I stayed here and they allowed us to stay on campus.” 

Students were given until April 5 to move into their new rooms. 

However, on March 25 another big change hit residential life. Through an email, all community advisors were let go from their positions, including those working in the buildings left functional. CAs live in the dorms, with their housing and dining fees paid for by the school.

Sophomore Michael Veltri was a CA in Louise Anderson Hall. 

“We didn’t really get much information,” Veltri said, in response to losing the job and the perks. “We just [had] seven days after the travel ban is done to move out or pay for housing.”

While the housing department has been updating their website and starting to prepare for online events, all staff is currently working from home, leaving students with only the RLCs. Responsibilities of CAs are now being allocated elsewhere in the housing department. 

“I believe the RLCs will be doing rounds and making sure we’re okay,” said Jenson. 

With updates coming nearly every day, more changes are expected to hit the housing department. For now, students have mixed feelings about residential life, but are grateful the school has allowed them to continue living on campus.