The Beginning of the End or a New Beginning?

After the cancellation of university classes, events, and resources in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s okay to feel defeated–devastated, even. For freshmen, it can feel like the total uprooting of their education during the first year of college. For seniors, it can be a heartbreaking way to end your undergraduate career–realizing that you just had your last lecture or club meeting without knowing it at the time.

Across the country, services have been paralyzed–schools, libraries, sports, grocery stores. These things are ingrained in our way of life, which has totally shifted in the past 48 hours. Abroad, some students are being forced to return home or remain stuck despite their programs being cancelled. Officials recommend isolation and staying away from crowds of people. Citizens worry about infecting the immunocompromised or elderly populations, and there aren’t enough COVID tests to go around. From an overhead point of view, it’s quite terrifying.

Yet, is there a way we could look at this situation in a positive light? Yes, everything has changed, and not in the best way. But times like this provide the opportunity for a completely different perspective. It’s a time where people are reminded to care for one another, to reach out to friends and family and even strangers. For stressed out college students, remote classes and cancelled events provide a much-needed break from the heyday of university life.

It’s unfortunate that many people cannot afford to take time off, because they need to work to make ends meet. Not everyone can afford childcare, or has their own laptop to attend work or school from home. Not everyone can return home. It’s a reflection of our broken economy and the disparate wealth inequality present in the United States and around the world. Now is the time to volunteer, if you are fortunate enough, your home, your meals, or just your company.

The most important thing during this time is to not panic, but to still take precautions. Follow expert advice such as washing your hands, working remotely, and quarantining if necessary, for example. It’s important to stop the spread of COVID-19 as much as we can. At the same time, remember that we are all facing this together. Everything will be okay. As presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stated yesterday, “Now is the time to come together with love and compassion for all.”

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Student at the University of Michigan studying Art & Design and Communication & Media, hoping to create meaningful design for social impact. Every week I highlight an intriguing artist (or group of artists)!

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