While Thanksgiving offers many students a break from the stress of school and an opportunity to reconnect with their families, some students simply can not afford to travel back home.
Tamiyah Thomas is a first-year student who will spend her first holiday away from home working as a means to provide for herself.
“This is the longest I’ve been away from my mom. I was looking forward to just going home and seeing (her),” said Thomas. The criminal justice major will work every day during the break, including an eight-hour shift starting Thanksgiving night to 2 a.m. on Black Friday.
Sophomore Emerald Wisner-Johnson didn’t travel home for Thanksgiving her first year either, sticking to the same decsion this year. The $160 roundtrip ticket to fly to her hometown in Lakewood, Calfi. was not worth the short time she would have to spend with her family.
Wisner-Johnson was also looking forward to seeing her mother who is sick from cancer. “I’m just apprehensive and scared because she had to be hospitalized for a while when it came back,” she said. “There was a lot of growing up to do for me and my twin brother.”
She reassures her mom that she won’t be home for Thanksgiving but she will return to be with her for the longer winter break.
“It’s ten days, I can survive,” Wisner-Johnson said. “But when you’re staying on campus you have to worry about food because the dining services aren’t open.”
During the break, the University closed City Eats Dining Center services, reducing some students’ efforts to save costs by not going back home. Students who live in dorms without kitchens, such as those in the Mary Park and Mary Ward Residence Halls, will have to buy food out.
“I don’t know how to cook and I don’t have much money to even buy food, so I’m either going to starve myself or arrange my amount of spending,” Wisner-Johnson. She estimates spending an extra $50 to get her through the week.
Thomas said she didn’t understand why students were expected to pay for meal services where they weren’t getting any.
Her mother had asked Thomas to quit her job and return home for the holiday, arguing she’d spend as much money on food while the dining center was closed as she would on a trip back home. Thomas wouldn’t budge.
Although, the meal services will cease for the week-long break, the City Eats Dining Center will open Thursday for a Thanksgiving dinner provided by Residential Life to all SF State students who stay during the holiday.
“The purpose is to provide students who are not leaving campus an opportunity to celebrate a very family/community-centered holiday when a vast majority of the campus community will be elsewhere,” said Residential Housing Association Johana Duarte.
This year, the dinner will be open to all SF State students, a change from previous years when it was only for campus residents. The dinner is expected to gather at least 100 people, according to Duarte.
“I’m excited for that because I get an actual meal,” said Wisner-Johnson, adding that she is looking forward to taking leftovers.
Her last Thanksgiving dinner proved disappointing when the people she was with rushed dinner to attend the Black Friday sales. She is convinced Thanksgiving Day is not about coming together anymore, but about obtaining the best Black Friday deals which is why she is not complaining about staying behind. Her only worry is getting by without the dining center services, Emerald said.
“I think I’ll be fine for Thanksgiving break,” Wisner-Johnson said. “It’s like they say time management, it’s about money management. Sometimes it’s not about the choice you want, but the choice you have to make.”