Editor’s Note 03/31/21 at 5:30 p.m.: A word in the article has been edited, both for accuracy and to reflect the author’s original intentions. The author initially wrote that Counseling Services had not received “adequate” funding to meet the current demand. The version of the article that was first published said “more,” which could be misleading, as Counseling Services has received increased funding during COVID-19.
Every year, around seven weeks into the spring semester, we get a break. This year, however, that break has been cut to just two days as the College has decided that since we cannot go anywhere, we do not need a break. However, as the toll of learning virtually and living through a global pandemic, national instability and economic downturn has weighed on both professors and students for over a year now, a break is welcome regardless of location.
The expectations for Bowdoin students have not been lowered this year in the face of our multiple national crises. We have the same amount of in-class time, the same amount of exams and essays and they have been graded with the same scrutiny. Students have been working with parents and siblings on the frontlines while grandparents have been sick and while they themselves have been working a job to help keep their families afloat. This has been a uniquely stressful year for all of us. To deny us a break at this point is ridiculous.
Professors have had to teach their normal workload despite, in several cases, having multiple children who cannot attend in-person school because of the pandemic. Professors have worked while sick with COVID-19 to give their students an education. To deny Bowdoin’s professors a break is absurd.
All of this is already unacceptable, but pile on the fact that Bowdoin’s counseling center hasn’t received adequate funding in order to meet the demand of the pandemic, and the lack of break becomes unconscionable. Students have reported the inability to switch counselors if they are unhappy with the one they are assigned, not being able to see their counselor and not being able to get an appointment with the psychiatrist when they are running out of medication.
Due to and during the course of the pandemic, a recent study found that 71 percent of college students have had issues with anxiety and depression, 89 percent of students have had problems concentrating on their work and 86 percent of students have reported a disruption in their sleeping schedule. The study concludes that their findings “highlight the urgent need for interventions,” an act that the currently overloaded Bowdoin Counseling Services cannot provide.
In response to these glaring issues, I call for the following response from the Bowdoin student body and professors: let’s take a few more days off than we were given. We deserve it. During the seventh week of the semester, we should take the entire week off. Do not attend class if it’s being held and do not turn in assignments if they are due. Students deserve a break. Students deserve counseling if they need it. Professors deserve a break, too. We need to stop treating this like a normal semester because it just isn’t.
And please, don’t tell me that students do not deserve a break and that there are no breaks in the real world. First off, I would advocate that everyone deserves a break and access to mental health care always, not just during a time like this. But, more importantly, students are not machines, and professors are not machines, and for too long we have been trying to pursue business as normal. We need a break from pretending, so please give us one.
Philip Bonanno is a member of the Class of 2023.