Students sheltering from coronavirus on WKU’s campus face concerns about food, technology and isolation.
85 students applied to stay in on-campus housing after WKU President Timothy Caboni encouraged students to move out in a March 17 email, according to Bob Skipper, director of media relations. He said 48 students were granted on-campus housing and moved to Hilltopper Hall.
Tucker Covey, a writer for the Talisman, said he is happy to have housing but frustrated about unexpected changes in campus services.
“It seems like they change something every three days, and they don’t send an email out about it,” said Covey. “And I’m like okay, there’s only 48 students here, but like we still need to know when things are changing.”
Limits in dining and technology access
At the beginning of the COVID-19 response period, on-campus food access was limited to Subway at Bates, P.O.D. at Bates and Hilltopper Hub. On April 3 WKU Restaurant Group limited dining hours at Subway to 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday, cut breakfast hours at Hilltopper Hub and closed P.O.D. until further notice.
Students in Hilltopper Hall were notified about the change by a small laminated sign placed near the door to Hilltopper Hub.
“In this time of global crisis I’m not going downstairs to check out the laminated little sign on the window every morning to make sure when I can eat — I’m just kind of expecting them to have things available for me when I’m hungry,” Covey said.
Nico Fitzpatrick, who moved from Northeast Hall to Hilltopper, said he is frustrated by the limited locations where he can use his meal plan.
“Living on campus has become more and more of a challenge because they keep limiting what we can eat, and that’s kind of important,” Fitzpatrick said.
Several students also voiced frustration at losing access to campus technology centers.
The computer lab in Jody Richards Hall closed March 26 until further notice “while state-wide efforts to decrease in-person contact are in place,” according to an announcement on Blackboard.
“For some people who are still on campus who have classes that require like Adobe products or something, they probably don’t have computers that can run that, so not having access to the lab makes those classes more difficult,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick also said he had to drop a class because using the specialized programs for homework was too difficult on his personal computer.
Jessica McClay, a resident of the WKU Apartments on Kentucky Street, said she used campus computer labs for her geographic information science course.
“For GIS, I would usually use the computer labs because the computer labs had GIS software on them,” said McClay. “And it was easier to do that than install this giant thing on my computer because it takes up a lot of space, and the projects that I work on take up a lot of space. But now I don’t really have a choice.”
Ashley Lang, another student who moved from Northeast, said she has stable computer access but lacks access to a printer for her classwork.
“There’s not anything else I can do,” said Lang. “My professors are like, ‘Print this out,’ and I’m like, ‘Where?’”
Coping with isolation
Each student in Hilltopper Hall has their own private room to maintain social distancing. With 48 students spread across a dorm that houses up to 400, many students said they feel isolated.
Lang said she misses the human interaction she used to have before the coronavirus pandemic.
“I have a cat — that’s the only social interaction I get,” Lang said.
McClay said social interaction even when social distancing was a big reason she stayed in Bowling Green.
“A lot of my friends live in Bowling Green as well, so I wanted to be close to them or at least closer to them and not feel so isolated,” McClay said. “I was just kind of with those few people, and that’s better than being by myself I feel like.”
WKU students who feel isolated or stressed about the COVID-19 pandemic can contact the WKU Counseling Center for an online appointment at 270-745-3159 or visit their website at www.wku.edu/heretohelp/.
Copy Desk Chief Max Chambers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow them on Twitter at @chambers_max_e.