COVID-19 has significantly impacted the way students navigate higher education. In response to the pandemic, Eastern Oregon University’s Residence Life Office has adapted its plans for fall 2020. “We want to provide an experience as close to the ‘college experience’ as possible relative to what the conditions may be,” Director of Housing Jeremy Jones said. Space per student has increased in EOU residence halls, and on-campus dining services now offer take-out options. Expanded cleaning practices have also been established within dining services and residence halls. Jones said EOU is in a better position than many university campuses because of an abundance of physical space including suite style bathrooms. “Our residence halls were built with a significant amount of square footage per student, which is well above what is recommended. Our ability to protect students is pretty special. Really, at EOU, because of the space we have, we do social distancing naturally,” he said.
Residence halls are often the first experience young adults have living away from their parents. Beyond the basics of housing, residence life nurtures friendships, personal growth, extra-curricular opportunities and independence. Jones finds students are better able to transition into adulthood and navigate through higher education when they live on campus. “One hundred percent of the students who have gone home that I have talked to are having an incredibly difficult experience being away from campus,” Jones said. “This is a big part of student development and to remove this piece, you lose out on a key developmental factor.” EOU has one of the most cost-effective campus living arrangements in the region, and Jones takes pride in the experience his office provides — even while maintaining the required social distance.
“EOU’s small on-campus community allows for flexibility in designing personable programs that cater directly to what students want and need,” Jones said. Residence Life staff connect students to on-campus resources through different programming models. They use the metrics of “knowledge per resident,” which allows staff to gauge how well they are doing based on what their residents know. Studies show that students who become involved on campus are more likely to have better grades and complete their degrees. “Living on campus allows students to become more involved in the campus experience and culture,” Jones said. Applications for fall 2020 housing are now open. For more information about on-campus housing, rates and residence halls, visit eou.edu/reslife.
Written by PR Intern Briana Rosenkranz.