Since leaving campus for spring break in mid-March, aspects of life for students from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse have altered amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The return to campus will not be exempt from these changes. Students from out of state are facing other challenges amid the return to UWL for the fall 2020 semester.
With multiple U.S. state travel restrictions and quarantine recommendations adding to the complexity, The Racquet Press reached out to two out–of–state students from UWL to discuss how their travel and move-in experience will be impacted by COVID-19 and ask about their outlook on the upcoming semester.
Gaby Dickey, UWL sophomore
Gaby Dickey is from Roseville, California, northeast of Sacramento. She is living on campus in Eagle Hall during her sophomore year and is curious to see how COVID-19 will pan out in small living situations. In order to avoid the rush of students, she is moving in on one of the earliest move-in days with help from her roommate and their family.
When UWL sent out emails in June detailing their plan for returning, Dickey felt confident in the university’s decision after learning about their communication with Viterbo University, Western Technical College, and the UW System.
“I trust UWL enough that they have weighed their decisions, talked to enough people, and are listening to the CDC on how we should go about things. I think that if it’s their decision to open up then I’m going to trust them and see where it goes,” she said.
Dickey is thankful for her backup plan to live with her friend in La Crosse should classes go completely online – something that not all out–of–state students are guaranteed.
Dickey said she is reassured, knowing she will be with people from college, which was one main stressor about the fall semester for her. She says she empathizes with out of state students who may have to drive or fly far distances only to possibly return home in a few months.
Dickey said her mental health impact of connecting with students is one major benefit of moving back on campus. When spring break was over, she said the transition back home for her was not easy. “In a week it went from, ‘Oh, hey I’m on spring break!’ to, ‘I’m on a plane back to California.’ I think that really messed with me,” she said.
However, as the fall semester is nearing, Dickey said she feels more confident than in March. “The biggest thing was uncertainty, I had no idea what would happen. Just hearing that we are going back and that things are being figured out is an answer to all the questions I had.”
Julia Borner, UWL sophomore
Julia Borner lives in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, and she said she is feeling assured about UWL’s decision to return back to La Crosse. She has begun the process of moving into her apartment with the help of her roommate. Borner said that she “[does] not have any concerns about going back for the school year.”
She said it was difficult for her to leave Minnesota for the majority of the summer due to restrictions implemented by her job, although Borner said she is excited to have the independence that comes with an apartment.
She and her family also feel more secure with her living situation compared to that of dorm housing. Another advantage of off-campus housing during the pandemic for Borner is the security of knowing that she will be able to stay in La Crosse if classes move online.
Borner said she feels that students should try to remain flexible during this time. “In whatever has to be done, it’s all about adapting and respecting what the school says even if it’s not how we want it to go. The plans will have to change over time,” she said.
Borner said she appreciates the COVID-19 response planning from the university and their accommodations in general, especially as a student traveling from out of state.
“I feel like UWL is really trying to do what’s best for all students by updating us and making sure we’re aware of the expectations. Coming from out–of–state I know what my role is as a student. They definitely have been very accommodating in making sure that students are getting their questions answered,” said Borner.
To learn more about UWL’s COVID-19 response planning, read FAQ’s, and ask questions regarding out of state student travel and precautions, visit https://www.uwlax.edu/info/covid-19/ .