Burnout is Here, But it Doesn't Have to Stay
Nothing is set in stone. The administration can adjust...if they so choose.
Solutions are plentiful, but action is lacking. Campus needs a break, and there is only one body who can give it.
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In the Furman Focused email sent Friday, Mar. 19, the administration acknowledged the pervasive sense of burnout enshrouding our community. While the end of the semester comes closer with every passing day, students everywhere are feeling as though this no-break term requires the endurance of an Olympic marathoner. To help with this ubiquitous sense of fatigue, Furman offered a virtual CLP called “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” to help educate and inform students and faculty alike how to combat the current feelings of distress.
This CLP was not useless; I am sure that it provided invaluable information to students who are feeling fatigued. However, could this information not have been offered at the beginning of the semester as a preventative measure? In the same way that we were required to watch Paladin Promise videos before returning to campus, is this sort of education not better received prior to the onset of symptoms? As we all know, once burnout sets in it is extremely difficult to recover.
Additionally, the formatting of Furman’s “solution” to burnout seemed a bit ironic. As many will attest, a key factor in amplifying burnout is Zoom. Clicking a Zoom link seemingly becomes more arduous and mindless each time we have to do it. Therefore, using an activity conducted over Zoom to overcome Zoom burnout is entirely counterintuitive.
The remedy to burnout is a break — a real break, not some redundant day off in the middle of the week. A recent poll conducted by The Paladin showed that a majority of students do not actually take the day off on our so-called “mental health” days. Instead of taking the day to relax and decompress, students harrily attempt to wade through the work that has piled up over the semester. The days, which are sadly few and far between, become opportunities for catch-up, not wind-now.
I understand that the rationale for withholding breaks is to keep students from traveling in order to minimize the presence of Covid-19 on campus. However, taking away breaks has not accomplished this goal. If anything, it has resulted in opposite actions. With the ability to Zoom into class, students — exhausted to the point of no return — are leaving campus in droves to feel some source of relief. The “preventative measures” taken by the administration have backfired badly, yet they have shown no ability to course correct. Why?
We should be clear — students are not leaving out of spite or disdain for the rules. Instead, we are leaving to take care of ourselves, to make it through a semester that has been undermined by rules and cancellations, though conditions are improving with the gradual removal of restrictions.
The obvious solution would be a nice, long break. However, with only weeks remaining in the semester, it appears to be “too little too late.” Yet merely because a large-scale solution cannot be provided does not mean the administration should not try. Whether it be an impromptu cancellation of a Thursday-Friday or Monday-Tuesday (not a singular day in the middle of the week) or the allotment of one skip day per student, taken at their discretion with no questions asked and no penalties allotted, there are things that can be done.
Any attempt by the administration to recognize the fatigue of its community, whether effective or not (but preferably not on Zoom), would be a step in the right direction. Oftentimes it is the mere acknowledgement of an emotion that serves the greatest relief to the one affected. Students can look towards each other for help and encouragement. My hope is that Furman can turn a focused, listening ear to the student body it is so prideful of, and respond to our requests in a meaningful, tangible way.