Lease signing uncertainty potential byproduct of COVID-19

By Lauren Reichenbach, Copy Editor

Disclaimer: Jacob Kinswa, one of the sources interviewed for this story, is the brother of Randle Kinswa, The Easterner’s news editor. Randle Kinswa was not involved in the reporting, writing or editing of this story in any way. 

With EWU recently announcing that most classes will be held online for fall quarter, many students are questioning whether they should continue living in Cheney. Most students decided to move out of the dorms at the end of winter quarter, and many others are considering not re-signing their leases with the current class uncertainty.

EWU is uncertain how many students will return to the dorms in the fall.

“It is too early to know how many students will be living in the residence halls this fall,” said Michelle Schultz, the assistant director of apartments and facilities. “[But] we are excited for our students to move back in with us. Those who live on campus will have their own room this year.”

Incoming freshman Jacob Kinswa almost chose not to attend EWU due to classes being online.

“After having been informed that classes were going to be online in the fall, I was disappointed and considered staying at my local community college,” said Kinswa.  “I feel like I will miss out on the first quarter of college experience because of it.”

Since EWU has lifted the freshman on-campus requirement, many incoming students are looking for apartments. Kinswa had little trouble finding an apartment, despite the new wave of freshmen now searching for apartments as well.

“I decided to press on with getting an apartment in Cheney,” said Kinswa. “Luckily, I had already planned ahead before COVID and was put on a waitlist. I think [getting an apartment] is my best option because I will be here for longer than a year. In addition, I do not think living on campus will be nearly as fun with the COVID rules and such.”

Freshman Jaden Power regretfully moved out of the dorms at the end of winter quarter, and is planning on living with her parents until classes resume in person.

“I’m [currently] living between two houses since being online and being forced to leave my dorm,” said Power. 

Since Power will be transferring to WSU for nursing after next year, she said finding an apartment in Cheney would be almost pointless. She also doesn’t want to get tied into a lease in case classes remain online for the entirety of next year.

Schultz said there was no cut-and-paste advice to give students unsure of where they should live next year.

“Where to live is an important decision every student has to make and the consequences of that decision may feel more daunting this year,” said Schultz. “There are many factors students need to take into consideration and those decisions have to be made by each person. You have to look into what is the best option for you financially, for your mental health, and how flexible those arrangements will be.”

While Schultz did not want to lean a certain way when advising students to live in the dorms or an apartment, she stressed how serious signing a lease is.

“A major pitfall to signing a lease off campus right now is that private landlords will not care what modality the university chooses to offer classes,” said Schultz. “If you sign a lease, you will be held to it. If you sign a lease with a friend and that person ditches you, you are still responsible for paying for rent and utilities. On the other hand, if you do not sign a lease, you risk not being able to get an apartment for winter or spring quarter if needed.”

There is no right or wrong answer to where students should live while classes are online. Every student feels comfortable and focused in different settings, and each student will have to make the important decision on choosing what environment is best for their academic success.

But one thing is for certain: Almost everyone is anxiously awaiting the day that campus reopens for good.

“I can only hope that EWU will take into account the potential for a vaccine in the fall and would be open to a face-to-face class setting,” said Kinswa.