Empty dorms at empty campuses

Samantha Cabeza, Staff Reporter

Students made a decision right before spring quarter whether to stay in Ellensburg or to go home to their families. Many students decided to go home and stay safe with their families. 

Wherever students were at the beginning of the stay-at-home order was where they would have to stay put, according to an email sent out by President Gaudino. This decision was based on CWU’s health directors and the Kittitas County Health Department.  

Housing sent out an email in late March telling students if they were not in their dorms, they needed to tell housing they were no longer going to be staying there for the quarter via MyCWU.

Housing gave students the option to ship items home if they needed them urgently. If not, their dorms would essentially turn into a storage unit, holding their items until the students could return to it in the future. The locks will remain changed until the health department says when it is safe to return.

The housing website states, “per the Kittitas County Health Order, students are strongly encouraged, whether they live on or off campus, to stay in place.”

Students who decided to go home for spring quarter had to either come back to Ellensburg and remove all of their items and completely move out, or leave their items in their dorm as the locks were changed so nobody could access them. 

Brendan White, a freshman undecided major, said he was already home when the email was sent out. 

“Since I had the choice to go home, I decided to leave [CWU] because I was feeling homesick,” White said.

He left before finals week when classes went online. Housing offered to mail some of his belongings home, but he decided to leave them there. The locks on his dorm were then changed as he decided to stay in place in Snohomish, Washington. 

“I wish I knew about this earlier. I would have gone back and made an emergency trip to my dorm,” White said.

White’s online classes are on a schedule that is at his own pace. He doesn’t have any Zoom classes to attend, which means his schedule is more freed up than when he was doing classes in person at school.

Trevor Peden, a junior elementary education major, chose to go home because he felt it would be better for him mentally to be home with his family.

“I feel better being home because I appreciate things at home a little bit more. It’s like when my family does the dishes,” Peden said. “With my parents, we take turns on who cooks and who washes the dishes. At my dorm, we did our own dishes.”

Peden said his schedule feels consumed with a lot of busy work, but nonetheless he still feels like he isn’t that busy. He is not forced to a strict schedule during the day, which means he can choose to do things when he wants. 

“I prefer living at school but I definitely enjoy being at home more,” Trevor said. “I miss being at school because I miss my friends, but I like being at home because I could work for the local elementary school, if it was open.” 

Students still living in dorms still have access to CWU Dining Services in the SURC. Social distancing is being practiced and there are limited hours where students can get food. Although this is open, every other campus resource is closed until it’s safe to open again.