A Message of Reassurance
Today I was deeply moved to read the responses to the student survey distributed by our Student Success Team under the leadership of Emilah DeToro, Director of Student & Career Services. I was touched by a student who wrote that they would like a “message of reassurance from Ann.” You asked. I am answering. Here it is.
First, I want you to know how much we care about you, our students, and the stresses this pandemic has placed on your and our lives, our families and loved ones. The challenges of social distancing and stay at home policies are real. We are aware of the financial stress that many of you reported. It was the third challenge you identified after social isolation and too much screen time. We at the college are not able to do a lot about social isolation and screen time, though the Academic Council will be discussing all of the survey results and you will be hearing from us what we can do. Right now we are struggling with these new challenges right alongside you.
However, we decided there is one thing we can do. The Executive Council made the decision NOT TO RAISE TUITION AND FEES for next year. We generally have a small increase each year. We will have no increases for next year. It is a small thing, but it is something we can do.
We are with you, after all, for we human beings are a kind of herd animal – not generally solitary except in chosen moments of separation and reflection. We know we exist by looking into one another’s eyes. We can be reassured by touch or simply by breathing slowly next to one another. These common occurrences are now uncommon for many of us.
And we each have to negotiate with the uncertainty of not knowing. We do not know how long the threat of the virus will last, nor do we know what we will be asked to do to prevent its spread. We cannot foresee all of the consequences of this pandemic. We hope for the best.
We may be wondering: Will we emerge from this global crisis with a greater understanding of our global unity? Is the desire to live more consciously with one another and the animals, plants and waterways of the earth becoming stronger among the people of our planet? Will we be more capable of challenging and changing the social inequities that are now so evident as different communities of color are suffering more death and illness from COVID-19? What positive outcomes might we experience individually and collectively?
We do not know. And in the absence of knowing, we have to yield, to allow, to adapt, to dream, to envision, to make art, to find ways to make this challenging time bearable.
One thing I truly loved in the survey was hearing from you what you are doing right now to make this time more bearable.
Here are your top ten self-care strategies:
85% cleaning my space
79% getting out into nature
79% taking walks around the neighborhood
79% regular check-ins with friends and/or family
75% seeing my therapist
74% making art (knitting, beading, crafting)
63% altering my expectations of being productive
62% physical exercise (running, online/Facebook dance parties, yoga, hiphop class, etc)
57% binge watching movies or shows
56% practicing meditation or radical acceptance
Bravo! You are impressive people. You inspire me.