Behind the Story: What it’s Like for Students to Navigate Housing During a Global Pandemic

I thought I was having a pretty difficult time figuring out my housing plan for the online quarter until I interviewed Olivia, a senior Cal Poly student from Oregon. The interviews I conducted as a part of this story totally changed my perspective on the personal issues I was experiencing with housing as a result of the Coronavirus.

“In the moment it sucks to have to wake up and go to class but now doing it online you’re not seeing people in person so its totally different not even walking around campus and seeing familiar faces, it’s pretty sad,” Olivia said.

After conducting Zoom calls with Olivia and a couple other interviewees, I was able to better realize how much stress other members of my college community have encountered in conjunction with this unprecedented virtual quarter.

“It’s just not how I thought college would come to an end,” Olivia said.

This being her last quarter, Olivia is struggling to find the silver lining in this predicament which was apparent in her tone during our conversations. In addition to the fact that this is her last ever college quarter, she has been unable to work and her family is all the way in Oregon and she has no ability to visit them during the quarantine.

I found myself totally humbled during this interview. Olivia is a graduating senior that, as a result of the quarantine, has no real physical connection to her college community and does not have the option to return home either.

During my own research online, I saw plenty of students throughout craigslist and facebook groups rushing to sublease or move around within Slo for a bevy of different reasons, discounted prices being offered to students with decreased budgets. Everyone was on their heels trying to manage school, finances and personal safety.

“I just can’t believe what a profound impact this has had on so many students in our Cal Poly community,” Cal Poly Journalism student, Jessica Gillis, said. “This is a really sad way for people like Olivia to have to finish college.”

Our interview with Olivia helped me see the real life repercussions of the quarantine and resulting online quarter on an individual level. Each person is affected in a different way and our piece hopefully helped to shed light on some of the people behind these stories of housing insecurity in an unprecedented time in modern history.