The “Fool Proof Plan” That Isn’t Working

After two months back on campus, we have one active case. CNN has covered Colgate’s progress, considering it a success as we receive national praise for the University’s devotion to student physical health. Yes, it looks great on paper, what cost does Colgate’s plan to eradicate COVID-19 on campus have on the student body? I can say that for myself, this comes entirely at the cost of my mental health and happiness.

It feels like we took so long and worked so hard to make it to Gate 3. But now, here we are, and I’m not feeling great. I’m truly quite terrified that this could be “the new normal.” At first, I felt rejuvenated to be back, despite intense Gate 0 and Gate 1 regulations. I felt excited by my morning and afternoon walks, overjoyed to see my friends after nearly six hard months apart, and excited by the possibilities of what this semester had to offer — even knowing it would not look normal. As we slip further into the semester, that excitement is gone and has been replaced with a lack of motivation to keep up my studies, mental exhaustion from doing the same thing over and over and a dread that we might have to do this all over again come January.

I appreciate immensely the efforts by the administration and task force to create a campus that so heavily values student safety. However, after much internal reflection and discussions with my peers, I feel confident that this fool-proof plan is not working. 

In many ways, “Colgate Together” has dragged us farther apart. I know I am not the only one who feels this eerie sense of instability and isolation, but it’s hard to find comfort in others when we’re all so physically isolated.

I want to make this clear: I am not advocating for a lawless, anarchical Colgate where we can roam free and do as we please. This is not a call to disregard the pandemic and all of the horrible components that accompany it. This is a call for a happy medium — for a greater consideration of what can give in order to find a middle ground that accounts for both physical and emotional health.

Without coming from a place of being overly optimistic, I think there are ways that Colgate administrators can partner with students in order to make sure that people’s needs are being met: their physical and mental health needs. 

As of right now, I feel like a shell of a human. I feel burdened by assignments and disconnected from my peers, as if I am living each day just going through the motions. Perhaps what burdens me the most is feeling like I do not have room for personal and internal growth. I feel like I have few decisions to make and opportunities to seize. I understand that my freedoms should be limited right now to preserve community health. However, I think there is an overwhelming feeling that we are too suppressed. 

Perhaps we take advantage of the Colgate bubble, invoking another quarantine at the beginning of next semester but allowing more freedoms after the fact. We could make a greater effort to eliminate student interaction in the community so as not to jeopardize the well-being of Hamilton.