Editorial: Self-care is vital as students embark on another virtual semester
And just like that, February is over, and we made it through the first month of the spring 2021 semester. We as a board wanted to pause, break from our usual style of editorial and take this opportunity to remind our fellow students that you are doing a fantastic job, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.
The COVID-19 pandemic has rendered the word “unprecedented” almost meaningless, but it is crucial to remember that this is not a normal semester. Normally, we would be about to embark on the first week-long break of the spring, promising adventure and rest. Instead, the one-year anniversary of the pandemic’s arrival in the United States approaches, a grim reminder of the incalculable loss and sacrifice we have all endured since March 2020. In the United States alone, 500,000 people have died from COVID-19, a horrific toll that we have not had the time or space to grieve. Amid it all, we keep going to class, clubs and work.
We must remind ourselves that this is not normal. The burnout, exhaustion, grief and loneliness that we are experiencing are not personal failings. You cannot “work harder” to escape it. It is draining to never escape the world of screens and Zoom, because our academics, social lives and entertainment are all virtual. During the worst public health crisis of our lives, we are sprinting through this semester. Two full weeks of break were replaced with five single days off, but syllabi retained the same number of assignments — and our expectations of ourselves didn’t change.
Maybe you recognize that your friends have too much on their plates and need a break. Maybe then, you can give yourself the same compassion. At least believe us when we say: you are doing your best, and you deserve to rest.
As a board, we can’t change the academic calendar or rewrite professors’ syllabi. All we can do is remind you that a few mediocre grades on your transcript are not the end of the world, especially not when it feels like we’re living through a year-long apocalypse. Dropping or pass/failing a class are both good options if you want to relieve some academic pressure. You do not need to hoard your pass/fails. You are not a “worse” student if you dare to use one. Shut out the stigma that says you aren’t working hard enough unless you’re barely hanging on. Your health — mental, physical, spiritual — is more important than your grades.
The deadline to pass/fail a class and to drop a class without a “W” is March 16. We hope this editorial encourages you, if you need or want it, to take advantage of one or both of these options to make this semester a little more survivable.