Last Friday, Blue Jays walked out of their morning classes to a 60-degree day, ready to relax and recharge in the sunshine. Alas, the weather was short-lived: Dreams of lounging on the Beach all weekend quickly came to an end as another round of snow brought us back to reality.
With winter sticking around, campus can feel desolate and unwelcoming. This was especially true as the semester began in the shadow of the U.S.'s Omicron wave; students returned to the temporary suspension of in-person dining on campus and a no-guest policy in residence halls during one of the worst periods for seasonal depression.
The February slump is palpable when looking at low attendance at events on campus. Of course, a snowy forecast and COVID-19 concerns are not the only things to blame for a slow start to this semester. After almost two years, students are burned out from the pandemic.
Unlike when we were first sent home, it now feels like the University expects us to move at full speed when it comes to academics and extracurriculars. Although some professors have reverted back to the “precedented times” syllabi, COVID-19 is still a concern for students, especially those with relatives at risk or who are at a greater risk themselves.
We are all still dealing with a lot of the same concerns we’ve had for the entire pandemic. But take it from us: It’s completely okay to not be okay right now. If you are stressed or overwhelmed, take the time to check in on yourself. Try peeking at a self-care flowchart to see what your body needs, watch a comfort movie or savor any warm weather outside with friends.
Of course, sometimes problems can’t be fixed by simple self care, and that means it’s time to reach out to someone else for help. The student organization A Place to Talk offers a listening ear to anyone who needs it. The Counseling Center also has several outreach programs students can take advantage of on a weekly basis, whether it be a workshop on anxiety and stress management or emotional adulting.
The University, too, must make sure its resources are adequately supporting its students. Though we appreciate the wide variety of programs offered by the Counseling Center, we must recognize flaws in the system.
Following the Not My Campus protest this fall, a survey created to give insight on students’ interactions with University resources shed light on a largely negative view of the Counseling Center among survey participants. Additionally, given its goal-based structure of counseling, students cannot use the center for any long-term services, though there is not a set limit on the number of sessions a person can attend. In fact, 90% of students are seen for fewer than 15 sessions.
We applaud the availability of free sessions and virtual alternatives, especially given the fact that many other schools provide a hard limit on session numbers and charge fees. In the last 20 years, there has been a nation-wide shift among collegiate mental health professionals toward a short-term treatment model in response to a constant increase in students seeking help. We understand this unfortunate reality, but Hopkins could be offering its students so much more. Increasing staffing at the Counseling Center and listening to student ideas for reform are important first steps.
Even though the system is imperfect, it shouldn’t be a barrier to seeking help. We implore students to take advantage of the resources we do have — the services the University implemented during the pandemic are still available to us for the time being.
Plus, there are some things to look forward to as we trudge through the winter glum. The majority of students on campus, for example, have not had the opportunity to participate in any of the University’s beloved spring traditions. You can attend Spring Fair, soak up the sun on campus, stroll Stony Run and enjoy Baltimore’s plethora of outdoor dining options.
Though we don’t know when the pandemic will end, we do know that good things are coming with spring. We’re almost done with the long haul, just hang on for a bit longer.