“While the Cal Poly campus remains open –  we ask that students return to their permanent home residences if possible,” The Office of the President stated in an email sent before spring break. However, some students, like business administration sophomore Shaun Tanaka, decided to stay on campus anyway, risking the health risks. Cal Poly had all the students who live on campus to move into Poly Canyon Village, an apartment complex on campus.  

Shaun Tanaka studies business with a minor in finance and is also taking online classes with the Airforce. Tanaka currently resides in Poly Canyon Village during the COVOID-19 global pandemic. He is originally from Los Angeles but decided to stay in his four-person apartment by himself. 

“It’s different, not necessarily bad, just something new to get used to,” Tanaka said.

Video by Mika Lincoln

Q&A with Shaun Takana

While Cal Poly has allowed students to stay on campus, they asked in an email on March 24th that students “return to their permanent home residences if possible.” What influenced your decision to remain on campus?

I’m from the [Los Angeles] area, which is generally very dense, so I considered it safer to stay in San Luis Obispo. I also work in a local camp as part of a squadron aiding in search and rescue. After all of the virus commotion started to happen, and more and more people started going home, I decided to stay to help and pick up more hours where they needed me.

You have been helping in more ways than one, having also started a grocery delivery service for students stuck on campus without transportation. How does the service work, and what inspired you to help others who stayed on campus?

After the recreation center was announced to be used in holding COVID-19 patients, all the freshmen were moved to Poly Canyon Village, where I live. Freshman usually don’t have cars, and I was lucky because I decided to bring my truck down this winter break. So, I decided to go door-to-door and say “Hi, I’m Shaun, if you ever need anything I have a truck and make weekly grocery runs.” So now once a week I get lists from several students and I go to Ralphs and simply drive to each building to deliver. It’s really no big deal, but I feel like I just adopted seven kids. On campus, GrubHub can get expensive, so I wanted to give them more options.

Cal Poly had to limit their resources provided, as well as partner with businesses like GrubHub to limit social interaction at dining facilities. What is still functioning on campus?

Honestly, since they said the recreation center is housing patients, I have been avoiding anything near that side of campus. I use the rugby fields on the far side of campus to workout. I’m really not sure what else is even open on campus.

A lot of students seem to be unclear on campus news. Is there a way to receive updates from campus about what facilities may be open or what may be happening all together?

No, if Cal Poly is doing one thing wrong it’s their lack of communication. I’m not sure of anything that is or may be happening on campus… I had to hear about the recreational center being used for housing by word of mouth from other students.  It would be easier on us if they just let us know what was happening. 

How has Poly Canyon Village’s atmosphere changed?

Having a campus of about 22,000 students, you get used to seeing a lot of different faces every day. Now, I’d guess there are a constant 500 people living here. The only other person on my floor is my RA. I miss my roommates, and our game nights, but in the grand scheme of things, this is just a hiccup. 

“I miss my roommates the most. It’s kind of hard because we had little traditions like we would just play Super Smash Bros every night. Little things like that you can’t do, so it’s just not the same. It’s not necessarily bad, it’s just different.” Shaun Tanaka | Courtesy
“I miss my roommates the most. It’s kind of hard because we had little traditions like we would just play Super Smash Bros every night. Little things like that you can’t do, so it’s just not the same. It’s not necessarily bad, it’s just different.” Shaun Tanaka | Courtesy

Have you had to make any changes to your graduation plan? Or classes this quarter?

First, I’m a Cal Poly Business student, but I am also currently enrolled in taking online classes at Air University in aeronautical engineering. Due to the virus, I had to push all my classes with labs to next quarter for a better learning environment. I could have graduated halfway through my third year, but I’ll have to go into my fourth. The uncertainty is scary, I just started my finance concentration and took my first class online. But the professors are more than willing to help as much as they can right now. I was working on a new startup, but all my advisors talked to me about a delay due to the recent impact on the economy.

What have you decided to do on your startup business plans?

Without giving too much away, When I first came up with my startup I became involved in the Cal Poly Hatchery, the Cal Poly center for innovation entrepreneurship. This center is for students trying to start their own company, and sets them up with advisers and professors to consult and give advice. After I began in February, I was in a great spot until the pandemic. After the economy crashed, my advisers convinced me to slow my efforts to proceed with the startup after I got a patent lawyer. 

Have any post-graduation plans been affected?

I recently decided to change my career path from Airforce to Army officer. Usually, you have in-person labs or workshops to train for your desired path. They have been unable to hold these sessions, and have not determined when it will be safe to hold them again. 

Many people are finding themselves struggling mentally with this situation, how have you been coping?

I tell myself that this does not have to be bad. It’s a break and time to take a breath. Work on what you always wanted to, I’m practicing guitar every day. Appreciate having time. Do I miss my friends and my usual social interaction? Of course. But I know it’s for the better. 

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