OPINION: Pullman students came back for many reasons

From leases to socialization, here's some of the reasons why WSU students returned to town

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FEIRAN ZOU | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Students came back in large numbers this fall – but the reasons why aren't always so clear.

GRACE LAPIERRE, Evergreen columnist

Those of us who came back to Pullman know why we did. Sometimes, though, it is hard not to wonder why someone else returned in spite of the risk, and especially given the university’s guidelines.

While I had already signed my lease — as had my roommates — before WSU asked students not to come back, I had made up my mind a long time ago that staying at my father’s house was not an option.

Having a distinct lack of private space to attend classes and do work, along with other personal reasons, left me determined to find my own place.

Makaela Lambert, junior animal sciences major, said she did not want to live in her mother’s house anymore.

“I really enjoyed living in Pullman with my friends last year,” Lambert said. “I liked the freedom it gave me, so even though I could have gotten out of my lease, I didn’t want to. I wanted to come back.”

Lambert said she originally came to Pullman to be away from home and returned in order to stay away from home. Additionally, she has one in-person class working with young horses.

Lambert said she thinks a lot of students came back because of lease agreements. She said she knows a lot of people who told her they would not have come back if not for their lease.

“I think I heard somewhere that 60-70 percent of students came back,” Lambert said.

In regard to how many students came back, she said she thinks people could be doing better.  She believes the locals are likely upset about students coming back because of the parties and failure to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

“My neighbors are stupid,” Lambert said. “They have parties almost every day.”

Isabel Stevens, sophomore wildlife ecology and conservation sciences major, said she came back because of her lease.

“If I wanted to get out of my lease, I would have to find someone to take over,” Stevens said. “If I didn’t, then I would have to pay half a year’s rent.”

Stevens said if she could have gotten out of her lease, she probably would have stayed at home.

She said she thinks a lot of rental management firms are not as helpful as they could be when it comes to getting out of a lease.

Some people returned for work, others because Pullman is a special place to them.

Devin Eagle, senior civil engineering major as well as an assistant hall director, is back in Pullman but living on campus for work.

He said he has friends who came back to live off-campus, citing that his friends are also seniors who likely wanted to make their last year memorable.

“I think coming back to campus, even though we’re online, probably provides a sense of normalcy for them,” Eagle said. “I think that’s something all of us are really craving right now.”

He thinks there is more to the number of students who returned than lease agreements. Eagle said he personally loves the campus and has lived there his entire time as a WSU student.

“It’s really hard to get away from,” Eagle said. “When I go home in the summer, I’m glad to be home, but I’m always so eager to come back to Pullman.”

As for how the locals feel about the influx of students, Eagle said they might appreciate people being back.

“With people actually being in the community going out to small businesses and supporting those businesses — I think the locals might find that it’s good that we’re here,” Eagle said.

Despite the fact there was very little that could have convinced me to not come back to Pullman – and it seems several other students came back for personal reasons as well – the behavior of those who fail to follow the COVID-19 guidelines make me feel anxious about being back.

Even though I may only go out for groceries, passing older people in the aisle at Walmart makes me wonder if they’re bitter about us coming back. If they are, I wish I could apologize on behalf of all of those who came back.