From farewells this fall to faring well this spring

By Editorial Board

Across campus, students are packing up their belongings and preparing to head home to complete the remainder of this uniquely difficult semester remotely. We’re sure that many of you — like us — were apprehensive or even downright dubious about making it to November and departing Middlebury as scheduled this weekend. 

These three months, while unfamiliar and frustrating, also left room for navigating unconventional means of fulfillment and connection. So, as we squeeze boxes into cars and check in for cross-country flights, we want to recognize that although this semester was not easy, we made it this far nonetheless. 

We maintained an extremely low prevalence of positive cases on campus and found new ways to create a sense of community and togetherness. Unlike most other colleges across the nation, we had access to some in-person classes and activities, and were granted the opportunity to engage with and support the town. 

There are a myriad of thank yous to be doled out — to the town for welcoming and trusting us, to professors who gracefully overcame the dreaded Zoom silences, to the facilities and services staff that keep us fed and safe, and to student organization leaders who fought tirelessly to put on events regardless of the circumstances. 

In appreciating these silver linings, it is also imperative that we do not sugarcoat or repress the frustrating and disheartening realities of this semester. We have all felt the anxiety, isolation and exhaustion — already inherent in college — become increasingly magnified under the shadow of Covid-19. Making it through the fall safely was an impressive feat, but the toll taken on the mental health of students, staff and faculty cannot be discounted. From first-years who are largely limited to their cramped doubles to super senior Febs who are departing Midd sans graduation ceremony, our entire community has experienced our own unique and shared feelings of loss. 

While we may have survived this semester, the sustainability of this new normal has yet to be seen. We’ve likely all heard the murmurs (or exclamations) of friends and peers who are not planning to return in the spring — and perhaps ruminated on this decision ourselves. While this semester may have been doable, these feelings of relief or completion do not necessarily equate to that of a long-term, feasible ability to continue the way we have been. 

Sarah Fagan

We hope that in the spring, we as a community can strike a balance between the preservation of both our physical and mental health, and we urge the administration to seek comprehensive student feedback in this regard. From the availability of communal study spaces and heated outdoor dining to the necessity of breaks and more consistency between permitted extracurricular activities, there is still lots for students and administration to communicate and collaborate on together. 

Even after the three month break, many students remain skeptical about their potential ability to endure another semester like this one. This is not just your average case of end-of-semester burnout — it’s indisputable that we are going to need increased support, resources and creativity in order to do this all again. 

We are grateful for the opportunities granted this semester, even if they transpired behind masks and at a distance. Now, it’s time to think critically about sustaining, not just surviving. 

This editorial represents the opinions of the Middlebury Campus’s editorial board.