For many Gonzaga students this semester, they must make the decision of either going home for the Thanksgiving holiday or staying in Spokane.
The university issued an announcement earlier in the semester that if students decide to leave Spokane County for Thanksgiving, they are encouraged to not return in an effort to decrease the potential spread of COVID-19. Part of this announcement was also due to GU announcing it would be going remote-only for the remainder of the semester.
Students across campus will be experiencing Thanksgiving in different ways, as underclassmen and upperclassmen share different experiences as to what they will be doing.
Freshman Cole Mitchell, from Juneau, Alaska, has decided to stay in Spokane for his Thanksgiving break.
Mitchell said a lot of the people in his residence hall will be staying as well, and he and his residence hall mates will be hosting a potluck dinner.
If COVID-19 wasn’t a thing, Mitchell said he is unsure about how much his plans would have changed. Mitchell is currently in a long-distance relationship, and he said it would have been possible for him to go home with his parents or stay in Spokane and have his girlfriend come to Spokane for Thanksgiving.
Mitchell said he hadn’t planned anything because by the time he wanted to make plans, the announcement recommending students to not come back after the Thanksgiving holiday was made.
“Whatever happens happens,” Mitchell said.
While some underclassmen like Mitchell decided to stay, some underclassmen decided to do school remotely for the entire semester. Sophomore Sal Stazzeri decided to study remotely from his hometown of San Diego, California. Stazzeri and his family will be celebrating Thanksgiving with his family. In regards to coming back next semester, Stazzeri is uncertain as to whether he will be back.
Stazzeri said he thinks GU has taken COVID-19 very seriously and things could be a lot worse than they have been.
He said he is more thankful to celebrate holidays and everything that has been given to him in his life. Stazzeri’s father has helped many people with financial situations in California, and Stazzeri encourages other GU students to be happy and thankful.
“Some people got luckier than others, but at the end of the day, Zags still get to say that they are Zags,” Stazzeri said. “Some people still have jobs and a lot of people still have their families to fall back on in case they fell under financial problems.”
Financial problems could be at the forefront of some students' decisions to go back home or not for the Thanksgiving break.
Junior Rachel Folkestad faced a similar problem, which resulted in her decision to stay in Spokane for her Thanksgiving break and beyond. Folkestad, who is from the Twin Cities region of Minnesota, said it would be too much work for her to go back home, citing a potential decrease in productivity heading into finals week if she were to go home.
Folkestad said it was probably best that she stayed home due to recent news she found out last week. Folkestad tested positive for COVID-19 last Wednesday, saying she probably should not have thought about going home anyway. With that in mind, Folkestad will be staying in Spokane and will most likely be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with her housemates.
“I couldn’t do an easy drive home and back if I wanted to,” Folkestad said. “It’s a three-day drive for me, and that would be by myself, so I figured that just wouldn’t make sense.”
For Mitchell, Stazzeri and Folkestad, they do not have any on-campus jobs or participate in any clubs that would be affected whether they decided to stay in Spokane for the remainder of the semester or go home.
Senior Ben Pham decided he will be going home to Portland for the remainder of the semester, affecting two on-campus jobs he is currently working. Pham does administrative office work for the Center of Global Engagement (CGE), as well as marketing assistance for Foley Library.
Although most of the work he does for the library is remote, Pham said there will be a lack of convenience not being near campus in case he is asked to do something. Furthermore, with his job at CGE, he won’t be able to do as much for it in Portland.
“It’s mostly administrative office work, but since it’s a position as an ambassador for the department, we spend a lot of time hanging out with international students or whoever is interested and involved with the Center of Global Engagement,” Pham said.
The tradition of Thanksgiving will be presented in a different format, and whether GU students decide to go home permanently for the remainder of the semester or stay in Spokane, the message of gratitude remains the same.
“As we wrap up 2020 as officially one of the worst years for absolutely everyone, let’s just be thankful that we learned something from it, and if we learned anything, it’s to be grateful for what we have,” Stazzeri said.