I am feeling a little depressed lately. Maybe it’s partly because of the snow, maybe because students aren’t getting a tuition rebate. But mainly it is because I am stressed, and I feel as if I have no support at the university.
I have grown up in Sackville, and I cannot begin to tell you how much I love Mount Allison. That will never change. I think students deserve a tuition rebate, but that’s not what I want to argue here. I think that students deserve, more than anything, support. This semester has been extremely stressful. The three week strike had a serious impact on every student at Mt. A, and no one seems to be helping to make it easier.
I am a student on campus, first and foremost. I am also a town resident, and a residence assistant. And I can tell you, my mental health is seriously suffering because of the lack of support from the university this semester. Now, let me clarify: the university in this context includes administration, professors, and many other people who work for Mt. A. I want to say that I have found the librarians, custodians, and many other people very kind throughout this experience, and have done more than their share. However, I have been completely appalled at how things have gone throughout the strike and the aftermath.
Once the strike was over, I was hoping that things would get back to normal. But it is far from normal. I have gone four and a half weeks getting as little sleep as I can, while still hoping to function the next day. I have been going to bed late and getting up early so that I can try to finish my assignments to the best of my abilities, while still trying to continue working at my various employments. Relaxation is no longer in my vocabulary. I don’t seem to have time for anything. I wake up, shower, eat in residence because I don’t have time for meal hall, work on assignments, go to class, go to the library for the half hour or hour breaks I have in between, eat when I get the chance, sometimes even at meal hall, go to any mandatory meetings I have, and study for the remainder of the day. I have come close to crying in public many times in the past few weeks.
After the strike, I expected the course outlines and assignment expectations to change in my classes, but they did not. I am doing the exact same amount of work that I was supposed to do before the strike, except take three weeks off the semester for the strike, and two weeks off for the week before and after spring break, in which professors did not have anything due. Same workload. Five weeks fewer. This is just unreasonable. I have asked my professors for extensions. They have all been denied, except for one class extension. The professors are being unreasonable in their workload, and in their expectations, as if all students are in only their class.
And the university is doing nothing to help. So there are counsellors who now take appointments on Saturdays. This has not been communicated to students. I ask you: who has time to go see a counsellor? I sure don’t. Free time is most definitely something I don’t have. I have been trying to figure out which assignments I can skip in order to accomplish others. I understand that students were expected to keep up with our workloads during the strike, however, as the strike went on, we were unsure of what we should be doing anymore; we had no guidance, and quickly lost motivation.
I am very studious. I take my studies very seriously, and I like things to be done well. Honestly, though, I don’t think I care anymore. I feel that my professors have been unreasonable and not willing to accommodate me. The university seems to want to put the whole thing behind us, and do not seem to understand or care that the mental health of students is suffering enormously. Counsellors are not visible or accessible, and they are obviously not being very realistic in offers for their help. I want to reiterate that there are many people who work on campus who have given up loads of their free time to help students; many individuals (such as the librarians, for whom I have unlimited amounts of appreciation) have shown how immensely they care about the students, but the majority have not.
I understand that this letter must seem very vague. You’re probably wondering what the point of this letter is. What I want people to understand is that students are suffering. We need help, and we need it fast. I want someone to care. Students are giving up the little free time we previously had to sit and do assignments that we’re not really sure how to do in the first place, but we don’t have time to ask questions, so we just do it to the best of our abilities. In return, I think that professors, administration, and counsellors in particular, should be willing to give up a little bit of their free time, and circulate around the library, meal hall, or Gracie’s, and see what they can do to help students. My mental health is suffering. And I am not the only one. Ask anyone. Have they cried lately? Have they felt like it? Do they feel stressed? I bet they’ll say the same as I did.
Mt. A, please start showing that you care about your students. It is your responsibility, and we’re not asking for much.