The common courtesy at the start of class is for the professor to ask, “How are you?” This is usually followed by a lot of silent nods, so-so hand gestures, or one brave student unmuting to share how they’re feeling. Even when I’m meeting a professor in office hours, I never tell them that I’m good. Because right now, I’m not. And I don’t owe it to anyone to lie and say that I am.
The truth is, I’m exhausted.
I honestly was looking forward to this semester. Neil Weissman promised us a rigorous liberal arts experience online, and I thought, “This will be good.” I thought, “Anything has to be better than the spring.” I remember getting my syllabi the first week of classes, looking them over, and thinking “This looks like a normal class. I’m going to learn this fall, and it’s going to be great.” But I don’t feel great. I feel really tired, and really overworked. Constantly.
With remote learning, we have less access to materials. Before, sometimes research just meant standing in the part of the library where books on your topic were and staring at the shelves. But we can’t do that anymore. The materials I do have access to I have to read online. On my laptop. The same laptop that now functions as my classroom, and as my source of entertainment for the rare occasions I get to take a break between the piles of work. It’s also the only way I can see classmates and friends. There is no chatter before and after class anymore, which was an invaluable resource in generating ideas and comprehension of class material. I’m no longer operating in a community of students outside class hours, where we all move in roughly the same schedule of class and homework and meals.
Now, this is all information I knew going into the semester. I’m not complaining about Covid. I understand that remote learning was necessary, and I agree with the decision. But since probably the third week of class, I have felt so beaten down by this semester, because of all that I have lost. Zoom fatigue is real. There are nights where I sit at my desk for six hours straight, just working. Time smears together. It takes so long to get any work done. And as a senior, every strategy I have ever learned to do work effectively almost doesn’t matter anymore. Because I’m no longer playing the same game.
I know that the faculty can only do so much to make it easier on us. But I would appreciate if Dickinson would look its students in the eyes and simply say, “Yeah, this sucks.” Because it does, and we all know it. We just don’t say it to each other.
But honestly, I’m so exhausted.