My fellow Buffs, we will get through this together.
You must be exhausted. I am, and I would like to pause to reflect on how these are times that try our patience, our good humor, and to quote Thomas Paine, our souls.
The pandemic constrains daily life. As students, you have had to adapt to quickly to changing requirements about how you study, where you can go and whom you can meet. You deal with this as you study in isolation or maintain a small measure of social interaction through the sterile medium of Zoom. You bear criticism heaped on you by those who attribute the errors of a culpable few to the blameless many.
On top of that, you confront real concerns about a pernicious, deadly disease.
Many if not most of us feel anxiety about what has already happened, what may come and grief for what—and who—has been lost."
Meanwhile, our economy falters and unemployment remains too high. The nation has seen massive, overdue protest of systemic and often violent racism. Political discourse is coarser, harsher and less productive for us, the people, each day. Hope for a brighter tomorrow can seem downright elusive.
These are tough times for higher education. Many if not most of us feel anxiety about what has already happened, what may come and grief for what—and who—has been lost. If you have such feelings, you are not alone. When I meet with other deans across the country, I hear eerily similar stories to ours at CU. We are all in this mess together.
That being said, I know that any message of concern from the university administration can be greeted with suspicion. After I’ve sent other messages expressing care and concern, I’ve heard messages like these: “If you care so much, cut my tuition,” or, “Why did you hold in-person classes in the first place?”
If you have such a reaction, I do understand your frustration. But I also understand your grief and exhaustion. I feel them, too.
My fellow Buffs, we will get through this together. I believe that in unity is strength and that as a community of scholars we are stronger than we may think. Thank you for being with us on this long, strange, exhausting trip. It may not be over yet, but one day it will be. I’m looking forward to it.
James W.C. White is interim dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.