Telling Our Stories: Western's Response to COVID-19

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Terri Kempton (She/her), Outback Farm Manager, Fairhaven  (essential@Western project)
Terri Kempton (She/her), Outback Farm Manager, Fairhaven (essential@Western project)
Not all Western students know that we have a farm on campus - but we do! The Outback is a 5-acre organic farm south of the Fairhaven dorms. We grow vegetables, mushrooms, fruit, berries, nuts, and have chickens and bees. The Outback offers year-round experiential farm and homesteading classes and holds workshops and events, like our current speaker series on Food, Farming, Diversity, and Justice. Unlike a lot of the WWU campus, we did not shut down when COVID hit. Our student staff of 8 are considered essential workers and continued growing food and maintaining the farm. We helped create the free food pantry popups to get fresh food to hungry students. We follow strict safety protocols and are excited to slowly welcome back volunteers and folks who want to learn about the food system!
 Kevin Jenkins, Parking Guide (essential@Western project)
Kevin Jenkins, Parking Guide (essential@Western project)
Parking Enforcement Our role on campus seems to have been highlighted since the campus closed in March of 2020 and continues to increase now as we are slowly reopening. We have always focused on helping students, employees, guests, and visitors find and park correctly on campus. As we are an easily recognizable, welcoming, and safe presence for anyone arriving on campus, we have been even more focused on answering questions and assisting everyone we encounter however we can. This work is rewarding for us and we look forward to the day when all the students and our fellow employees return to campus. Kevin Jenkins, Pete Elich, Allan Pack – Parking Guides; Hailey Grainger – Student Parking Monitor
Luke Mason (He/Him), Maintenance Coordinator for Viking Union Operations (essential@Western project)
Luke Mason (He/Him), Maintenance Coordinator for Viking Union Operations (essential@Western project)
When March 2020 brought the lockdown to Whatcom County and WWU we all left the Viking Union having no clue what we were in for. The custodial staff and myself were deemed critical and we found ourselves working in a virtually empty building. It was kind of surreal. It was like time just stopped, which gave us the time to stop and think about the time we now have. We accomplished cleaning projects that hadn't happened because we didn't have the time. The custodial staff took the time to complete trainings and gain certifications. We spent a LOT of time figuring out how the Viking Union would open up again. How it would operate, how it would look, how many signs to hang... Then time passed and we are open to students, staff and faculty in a safe manner and it feels so good! We are creating outdoor seating areas, installing new art and getting creative ideas on how meetings will be like. WWU and Viking Union aside, I hope and feel we ALL will come out of this pandemic in a better space, and time.
 Ruby Casiano (she/her/hers), Assistant Director and Coordinator of Training. (essential@Western project)
Ruby Casiano (she/her/hers), Assistant Director and Coordinator of Training. (essential@Western project)
One of the two staff/supervisors in the Counseling Center - making sure remote services run smoothly
Anthea Jones (She/ her), Custodian 5 assistant manager of ACS (essential@Western project)
Anthea Jones (She/ her), Custodian 5 assistant manager of ACS (essential@Western project)
A day that normally would be packed with faculty, staff and students. The sculpture stands lonely in the afternoon sunshine!
Tim DePoppe (he), custodian 1 (essential@Western project)
Tim DePoppe (he), custodian 1 (essential@Western project)
I appreciated the professionalism here at western at the beginning of and during the pandemic. I felt safe and very grateful to still have a job when so many were unemployed. Thank you to all of the supervisors and staff for keeping western going during difficult circumstances.
WWU COVID story 56: Jaivier
WWU COVID story 56: Jaivier
My COVID experience has been very up and down from the start of the pandemic. In the beginning it seemed like a beneficial short break, as rules were being enforced, Winter quarter finals were coming up. Then once the pandemic got more intense, I found myself stuck... [open story for full text]
 Charles Asher (he/him/his), Acquisitions/Interlibrary Loan Specialist in the Western Libraries (essential[at]Western project)
Charles Asher (he/him/his), Acquisitions/Interlibrary Loan Specialist in the Western Libraries (essential[at]Western project)
This is a photo of me working in the library--actually, a photo of me in a book in the library. I have worked various on-site shifts in the library over the past year: providing curbside service, processing interlibrary loan materials, and scanning requested articles and book chapters. Searching for materials in the Northwest Collection of the Wilson 4 Central Reading Room, I spotted the blue spine of a book in which my wife was interviewed as a commercial fisher in Alaska many years ago. I'm in the lower photo (in the water) with my wife Rebecque and my skipper Don, beach seining for salmon on Kodiak Island. One of our holding skiffs in the background is already half-submerged with the weight of fish (photo in book credit: Leslie Leyland Fields). I've thought about whether the metaphor of fishing applies to searching for and pulling library books from the vast pool of volumes at the Western Libraries. It doesn't. Having LC call numbers, well-organized stacks, and a computerized inventory system to locate an item is an infinitely more efficient method of retrieval than setting a 150 fathom net on a lone jumping fish.
WWU COVID story 55: Hannah Durland
WWU COVID story 55: Hannah Durland
When COVID first started spreading in the US and was becoming an issue, I assumed it would be a somewhat more intense version of the flu and that it wasn’t really something to worry about. That changed pretty quickly when I got home after finals had all been cancel... [open story for full text]
WWU COVID story 53: Anonymous
WWU COVID story 53: Anonymous
Often, I feel like I’m living in the Sims. Toward the beginning of the pandemic, I actually went out and got a job, having just been a student for the year before. While it was stressful to be working in a food service job in an area where not a lot of people wear ... [open story for full text]
WWU COVID story 54: Anonymous
WWU COVID story 54: Anonymous
In August of 2020, my partner and I moved into our first home together. Honestly, I think this is the best thing I did to help myself succeed during the pandemic. Having a constant companion and support system has been incredibly helpful. I chose Western because it... [open story for full text]
WWU COVID story 52: Anonymous
WWU COVID story 52: Anonymous
Currently, I am in my second year at Western, but this is the first time I have done a full year of school fully online. If you had asked me during my time on campus last year where I thought I would be next year, I would not have told you that I would be attending... [open story for full text]
WWU COVID story 50: Sarah Hays
WWU COVID story 50: Sarah Hays
Throughout this Covid-19 pandemic I have seen and undergone several personal, societal, and academic changes. Everyone, including myself, wears masks when out in public to reduce viral spread, a distance of six feet is maintained between strangers now, and social g... [open story for full text]
WWU COVID story 51: Anonymous
WWU COVID story 51: Anonymous
When the pandemic began, it took some time to realize that where others were suffering from the loss of frequent interactions with others and the ability to go out and socialize, not much had changed for me. Before the shelter orders I had occasionally visited tho... [open story for full text]
WWU COVID story 49: Anonymous
WWU COVID story 49: Anonymous
I am a student in my senior year of my bachelors. The pandemic has changed my life dramatically during what I thought would be a really exciting time for me. I started my college journey in my hometown at a community college, and began going to Western already a ye... [open story for full text]
WWU COVID story 48: Anonymous
WWU COVID story 48: Anonymous
Covid has been both a blessing and a curse in that despite it having disrupted previously consistent daily routines of many, it’s allowed others to slow down and take the time to find themselves as people when capitalism and the previous pace of society didn’t give... [open story for full text]
WWU COVID story 47: Anonymous
WWU COVID story 47: Anonymous
At the start of the pandemic in March, I believed like many others that we would be back to “normal” quickly. I remember being in class and having a short conversation of the possibility of the schools closing for a small amount of time and thought nothing of it. I... [open story for full text]
 Joanna Bailey (she/her/hers), Course reserves manager, Western Libraries (essential[at]Western project)
Joanna Bailey (she/her/hers), Course reserves manager, Western Libraries (essential[at]Western project)
Stacks in the Dark - Once a week I venture into the dark and mostly silent library to retrieve and scan from books to fill course reserves requests. It's faster to navigate stacks without turning on the lights, so I bring my phone and a trusty flashlight, plus nerves of steel for dealing with creepy sounds and shadows that have no obvious explanation. Once I'm done scanning the week's requests I finish processing the PDFs at home, where it's cozy and not at all creepy :)
WWU COVID story 46: Anonymous
WWU COVID story 46: Anonymous
Like many others, the pandemic has changed my life drastically. I unfortunately lost my job which has altered my daily routine significantly. I am lucky enough to have support from family and did not have to leave my housing situation when I was let go. The pandemi... [open story for full text]

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