Essential workers on a quiet campus

WSU Police work to offer field experience for trainees; campus mailing services work staggered shifts to minimize contact



About 10 people out of 40 are reporting to work for the Mailing Services in the Cooper Publications Building, said Ed Sala, director of WSU Press.

JAKOB THORINGTON, Former Evergreen reporter

As essential workers abide by the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, WSU Police has more officers working over the summer compared to prior years.

“People have canceled their vacations so there’s more [officers] working,” WSU Police Cpl. Kelly Stewart said.

While many people across the nation are staying home to work, essential operations like WSU Police and Mailing Services are still sending workers to report in their physical locations.

Ed Sala, director of WSU Press, said about 10 out of 40 people are reporting to work for Mailing Services in the Cooper Publications Building. They work in staggered shifts to minimize contact with others.

“The mail has to be delivered,” Sala said. “We are agents of the United States Postal Service. If the Postal Service is still delivering, we’re delivering.”

Both Sala and Stewart said the lack of students on campus has made their jobs difficult.

“Dealing with a lack of society on campus is an issue,” Sala said.

Stewart said the department is feeling the effects of a lack of field experience for officers in training. There are fewer calls for police service and the calls that are made lack variety, he said, with fewer intoxicated individuals or drug-related calls.

“People are getting frustrated that there’s not a lot to do,” Stewart said. “We’ve got a lot of officers working nights and there’s just nobody driving around campus.”

He said the department is adding online training to reduce discouragement among officers, but physical training has been cut to maintain social distancing.

Sala said working has become more personal as people try to deal with working remotely and often express their frustrations with it.

“Some people respond to [remote work] in a positive way and some people respond to that in a negative way,” Sala said. “My job has become part director and part therapist.”

To avoid discouragement or frustration, Sala said he stays motivated by working to make student life and professional staff life as worry-free and productive as possible.

Stewart said that as coordinator of WSU Police’s cadet program, he has shifted his focus to improve the program with online learning in place.

He said he wants people to stay positive and respect social distancing because of the uncertainty of COVID-19.

“This is tough on everyone,” Stewart said. “We don’t want our officers or any officers in the city to start passing the virus amongst ourselves.”

Sala said considerations should be taken for essential workers and their efforts should be recognized as they make it possible for people to work from home.

“We have to put every ounce of effort we can into making sure that we’re doing everything we can to protect essential workers,” Sala said. “They’re supporting our network connections and infrastructure. They’re doing the physical work that can’t be done remotely.”