This sucks: Let’s get through it together
We can start out with some pretty broad statements: This sucks, this sucks for everyone and this will continue to suck for quite some time. There really is no way around this. For the foreseeable future, everyone’s life will be significantly altered. Even past that, it’s possible that the entire world, for the rest of our lives, will be shaped by this moment. It is never going to be the same. That is why it is so important to not tear ourselves apart right now, at any level. This needs to be a centripetal moment for us; I want us to come together, and the attitude of every person matters.
In a way, this whole shutdown has been a kind of equalizer. That is not to minimize the way in which the crisis has more severely affected many Wash. U. students, especially students who depended on campus housing; some have obviously been hurt more than others. What I am saying is that no one has been spared from blowback. It is easy to forget that when dealing with the inevitable cascade of problems in the next month, but before you start to get angry at someone, take a second to remember that whoever you are dealing with is probably in a pretty bad spot as well. It’s pretty easy to get upset about how the University is holding your clothes hostage, but they don’t want this to be happening either. To some extent it was not even their choice—this whole college shutdown is a massive logistical challenge, and Wash. U. couldn’t, in good faith, bring everyone back.
If someone is genuinely trying to help you, if they are actually doing their best, then now is the time to cut them some slack. Try to be a bit patient, because for the next few months things are going to take a little, or a lot, longer than usual. That doesn’t mean everyone gets a free pass—crises bring out both the best and the worst in people. As important as patience is for those authentically trying, it is essential that we hold accountable either those that aren’t doing enough or are even potentially attempting to benefit from the situation. As the problem deepens, there will be controversy. Wash. U. could legitimately bungle this whole operation (further than they arguably already have), and in that case they should be called out. It’s not a free pass, but I do think they deserve a degree of leeway, just like anyone else dealing with this should.
People are going to be struggling for a while. I am sure some of you reading this article are struggling right now, or maybe you know some people who are, be it mentally, financially, physically or otherwise. You should reach out to those people and help if you can. If you are struggling yourself, you should ask for help. Right now, it is up to you to try and help friends who need it, or to ask for help yourself. Maintain as much normality as you can. Maybe you should call the people you were never that close to—you aren’t going to just bump into people on campus anymore. Stay in touch with your friends, anyone you would normally see in person. Just because the world is on hold doesn’t mean you should put your life on hold.
The most important thing is for us all to stick together, despite us being separate. Our community is fractalized all across the country, but it is essential that we keep it a community, and don’t start getting at each other’s throats. Stick together. On campus we don’t always get along. Perhaps in crisis we will come together more than we ever have.