Finances force choice between money or health and safety

Ryan Dietrich, Journalist

Whitewater students are living in a future history lesson. The coronavirus pandemic has flipped the world upside down and changed the lives of many. As for the students attending the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the campus has been shut down, and now many students have vastly different financial situations.

Some students lived on campus without jobs. But now those students have been sent home without money and little opportunity to find a job. A lot of businesses are shut down and the ones that are still open are in constant contact with the outside world, endangering the health of employees. At this point, students need to make a decision if they would rather work and make money or value their health and safety.

Whitewater senior, Austin Kaul, is one of those students who was sent home and has to disregard health concerns to financially make ends meet. He works at a convenience store and sees hundreds of customers every day, even during this pandemic.

“it’s a weird experience. For the most part, everything is normal. There are some customers that come in wearing masks and gloves. I try to take as many precautions as I can when I go to work as well, said Kaul. “One thing that baffles me is the amount of people who come to the store for things that I wouldn’t deem essential like lottery tickets, cigarettes and alcohol. I understand why people come and get these, but you’re taking a risk by going out and also putting others at risk when the whole state is supposed to be staying home.”

Another Whitewater senior, Justin Brust, is a finance and human resources major in a different situation. He was a Whitewater student who had an off-campus job during the school year, but is now out of work due to the nationwide pandemic. He is one of many individuals who cannot work from home either.

“I can’t go to work. They won’t let me,” said Brust. I was working in the HR department in a nearby school district. To make ends meet I’ve just been living with my parents. It’s a tough situation.”

Students who used to work on campus in what they thought was a secure job like Amanda Whitford, were also sent home without jobs.

“I had to get a job at the local grocery store,” said Whitford. “Now I’m endangering myself and my family because I need to pay bills.”

COVID-19 has changed the way of life at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and the life of its students have been thrust into financial situations for which they didn’t originally plan.