Recognizing privilege during COVID-19


Photo credit: Genevieve Humphreys

Illustration by Genevieve Humphreys

For this week, I was originally planning on writing a column about the normalization of burnout and being stressed to the point of exhaustion as college students. Given the news we’ve recently received about the state of the school and the world right now, that suddenly seems slightly irrelevant.

Trinity’s cancellation of classes for the rest of the semester is very new to all of us. None of us really know how to deal with this situation. The way I reacted, and the way many of us probably did, was to immediately go through all of the aspects of our own lives that would change given this situation and start to make predictions about how this would affect us personally.

Of course, we are all going to be immensely affected by this, and many questions will likely remain unanswered for a while, which will only add a great deal of stress to those I was originally going to write about in this column. However, I hope that we can also think about this situation more broadly and take into consideration how it will impact others as well, not just ourselves.

Upon hearing this news, I hope we think about how this will impact low-income students who do not have the means to go back home. I hope we think about how this will affect staff jobs on campus and what happens to the thousands of jobs on college campuses across the nation that rely on a vibrant campus life to make a living. I hope we can think about how this will affect professors and administration, who have all this to think about on top of their day-to-day jobs. I hope we can also think about healthcare professionals at this time, who are putting themselves at risk every day.

I can only hope that proper care is being taken of the school’s employees that this will undoubtedly impact. This includes those employed not only by Trinity, but by companies who we rely on, for example Aramark and ABM, including those who work at Mabee, The Commons food court and all on-campus residences, etc…

I do not claim to be entirely educated on how the campus will be affected or which facilities will remain in function. I know as much as the rest of us based on the emails we were sent. I just hope that some of the financial support being granted to students, in regards to reimbursement of room and board, etc. is being extended to faculty and staff in similar ways.

This isn’t to say that we as students do not suddenly have so much more on our plates as well. The fact that I was going to originally write this column about burnout already says a lot. I absolutely don’t deny that this is a huge deal for many of us, especially out-of-state, international and senior students.

Most importantly, however, I think we need to remember that this virus is taking people’s lives, including many of the nation’s most vulnerable. Personally, I will try to recognize my privilege in this situation and see the big picture rather than the inconveniences to my own life.