The beginning of the semester has been an absolute whirlwind. As leaders, we are learning that one of the most important things we can do in this time is listen. Every day, the situation ahead of us takes shape in a new way, and there is no way to predict the course of the semester. However, we will do our best to actively seek out student voices, critically monitor our systems and respond with empathy.
In our welcome message on the first day of classes, we emphasized the necessity for each of us to exercise the utmost responsibility in all of our actions this semester and recognize the moral obligation in front of us. With the recent exponential growth in cases, it is clear that the health and safety of our entire community is gravely threatened.
For over three months, university employees and administrators have worked tirelessly to make an in-person fall semester possible for us. Dedicated to Rev. Basil Moreau’s mission of educating the mind and the heart, countless resources were spent to make this in-person learning experience happen. However, in less than ten days, our in-person semester was nearly canceled. The easy route would have been to send us home, yet we have been granted the opportunity to try anew as a community.
In this time, we know that our individual actions impact more than just ourselves. Going to bars, house parties and even gatherings on the quad without distancing and masks endangers us all. It is incumbent upon us to consider the effects our choices have on professors, immunocompromised individuals, essential staff and countless other members of our Notre Dame and South Bend families who are at risk. We have to continue to accept reminders with grace and educate each other on how to follow the health and safety guidelines.
For many individuals that we come into contact with on a daily basis, the virus brings serious illness and long-lasting impacts that we have yet to fully comprehend. Furthermore, the threat of campus closing would have serious ramifications on the essential staff members who are working their hardest to make our campus a healthy and positive place this semester. The impact could be far-reaching for both the employment status of the Notre Dame staff members we know and love, as well as for the local economy.
Every single one of us must make a commitment to the common good. It is on us to do our part and hold one another to the highest standard. Either we respond as one family and respect every person in the Notre Dame and greater South Bend community, or we fail to live up to the force for good that Notre Dame strives to be.
But most importantly, showing up for others means showing up for yourself. We know mental health and emotional well-being are critical during this time as well. If you are in need of help, know that the University Counseling Center is still offering telehealth services. More information and resources can be found on the HERE website.
So be kind to yourself, be kind to others and be kind to our community.
Rachel Ingal, Student Body President
Sarah Galbenski, Student Body Vice President