Since social distancing started in March, we’ve all had to make some major changes in our day-to-day lives. The University of Montana has done its best to accommodate these changes with online coursework and lectures, and as students, we can appreciate that. However, many of the details of how to manage the in-person classes that have moved online have been left up to each individual professor, and we are definitely more appreciative of some methods than others.
To the professors who have been flexible and understanding to the individual students’ circumstances: thank you. We appreciate you more than you know. While there are plenty of us who are doing just fine, holed up at our parents’ house, scrolling through quarantine memes on Instagram and participating in the occasional Zoom meeting, there are just as many of us who don’t have it that easy.
There are plenty of us who, now, in addition to our educational responsibilities, have to worry about how to pay rent in the coming months without our previous income, having been laid off due to the closing of campus and so many local businesses in town that provided us college students with employment. Even for those of us who are unconcerned with our finances for the time being, there is still a global pandemic going on and that can inevitably take a toll on our mental health as well.
It’s no secret that in 2020 depression and anxiety disorders are fairly common among college students, and not being able to leave our houses or participate in any form of “normalcy” does not help to combat either of these. It’s no wonder that education, as important as it may be, is not at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Unfortunately, compassion has not been a blanketed requirement by the University at this time and not all of our professors have decided to follow suit. There are plenty of classes that are demanding the same quality and quantity of work from students as they were a month ago and at this point, that’s just not fair or realistic to ask of us.
The decision that some professors have made to shorten the duration of classes by two weeks is a relief in theory, but it becomes much less of a relief when the realization is made that it is not that two weeks of the curriculum have been cut, it’s six weeks of coursework that has been condensed into four weeks.
Having a professor who is empathetic to each of us and our unique situations right now is the most important thing that we could ask for. And for every extended deadline, every email check-in, every optional final paper, a weight is lifted off of our shoulders.
And It’s not that we are lazy and it’s not that we don’t care, it’s that we have a great deal more on our minds than Moodle and Zoom. With very little good news on the horizon regarding the pandemic, we should at the bare minimum be met with understanding and flexibility. If there is ever a time to give students the benefit of the doubt, that time is now.