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The Need for Support

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Written by Kristi Rolf

Earlier this semester, I wrote about the state of the campus community as we approached the midway point in another semester without a traditional break. I predicted that our break days wouldn’t provide enough relief for students balancing responsibilities with added difficulties of functioning during a pandemic. I asked two students how they are managing stress and whether they feel that their stress levels have been impacted by decisions from faculty and administration. 

Freshman Jocelyn Snader shared, “While I think the decision to not have a break had good intentions, it has left the students feeling run down.” 

Snader has noticed burnout in the student body. I predicted this as a result of a missing break. She went on to describe a discrepancy between her classes saying, “I am very thankful for the professors that are understanding about this and have reached out to students, but there is still a lot of stress that comes from the classes that haven’t altered anything.” 

Snader’s experience is one that I am also familiar with. Receiving more support from some faculty members than others during this year causes a confusing mix of gratitude and frustration.

Sam Ream provided a senior’s perspective saying that his current stress, “comes from acknowledging that times have changed, while not changing much at all.” 

This semester is particularly difficult for the class of 2021 who are celebrating the accomplishments of their college careers while simultaneously mourning the loss of expected traditions. Ream also recognized an atmosphere of support for students stating, “I do have to commend the faculty and administration however for being open to conversing about mental health on campus.” I hope that these conversations lead to action to invest in the mental health of Roanoke students.

These two students, Snader, beginning her journey at Roanoke College, and Ream, bringing his to a close, expressed a common theme of experiencing a difficult semester while receiving support from only a few faculty and administration staff. Sensitivity from all members of the faculty and administration is key to creating a healthy campus environment. If the College listens to the experiences of students during this challenging year, they will be well-equipped to actively prioritize the mental well-being of generations of students to come.