2020: The Year of Losses, Opinion Piece

Written by: Julia Russell

As a student dredging through the tail end of 2020 herself, we are exhausted. In the wake of civil unrest, political media bombardment, the personal economic effects of coronavirus, and a changing physical environment, it is difficult to be able to focus our attention on any one thing for too long. Add 8 hours of screen time on top of our busy schedules, and it’s an inevitable downhill slip and slide. We are struggling physically, and emotionally, with the start of (virtual) education amidst the current global pandemic. Students are lacking dire parts of our lives that work simultaneously to help us reach success and personal health. 2020 and our current season has lacked support, and housed many losses. 

Our minds are not created to learn virtually. As human beings, we are made to be doers and creators. We are made to be feelers and learners, touchers and seers. While virtual learning adds a synchronous aspect which is helpful to some, a bulk of our learning is individual and done through large texts that allow little room for information retention. It is tiresome as we are spending 8 hours (or more) a day staring at a screen that doesn’t interact with us, and instead feeds us information overload. We are exhausting and killing our minds more than learning important academia housed in our course loads that is dire to our majors.

To make matters worse, many campuses nationwide have expelled resources that students need to stay healthy and current with their workloads. Mental health help on campus is not as easily accessible, and while some students are dealing with feeling isolated and alone it is not surprising that mental health for some has taken a negative turn. Things like tutoring and study rooms are scarcely available and harder to access via online and in person, making it difficult for those who don’t have a good place to study at home or those struggling in their classes. It is a hard time juggling academics and personal health as a whole, while still being bombarded with politics and the media. 

So what? What can change, and how does this relate to our university? What do we need to do to help students get back to a new form of “normal”? The simple answer is community. As a student who has dealt first hand with the mental health aspect and feeling unsupported in her course load, having people to lean on and be in relationship with whilst living in these unknown times is vital.

UW campuses need to do a better job of supporting their students with ways of getting connected either virtually, or socially distanced with their peers. We are meant to be in relationship with one another, and that can’t always be done in twenty seconds in a breakout session on our class zoom calls. It is important that UW works harder this upcoming quarter and year to make sure that relationships are being cultivated, programs are being put into place to help the students who are facing trial mentally, and connect our campus so that we feel supported and like we aren’t going through this virtual battle alone. 

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