Students struggle against burnout in the spring semester

Molly Sweeney

Due to spring breaks cancellation for safety reasons, Augustana students, faculty and staff have struggled to finish out the school year. 
Sophomore Marissa Milone feels the expectations for students to continue as normal are difficult to achieve.
“I feel upset at every assignment that was given to me, and I feel very irritated and very stressed. I’ve never felt this fatigue before, but being on campus and having twice the workload and no breaks has been incredibly exhausting,” Milone said. 
Senior Meghan Gove is in agreement that the lack of break has impacted students negatively. 
“There’s been a psychological toll on a lot of students and a lot of burnout. There’s so much going on and our school is already really small, so I think that a lot of students feel like they can’t really get away from it,” Gove said. 
Augustana has encouraged students to attend in-person classes when they are able to, and faculty have the final say on whether or not classes are in person. Lately, however, students have found that faculty have been increasingly strict on attending class in person as opposed to joining through a Google Meet. 
Milone has found this increased strictness to be frustrating because it forces already exhausted students to attend classes that could easily be done in their homes.
“Students being able to go virtual is their only option because they’re just so stressed out and so burnt out, and being in their own homes while taking all these classes at once is the only absolute way they will be able to attend,” Milone said.
English and education professor Katie Hanson has found the differences in normal routine and community building in an academic setting to be challenging.
“Being in two or three classrooms means there’s less time to work with [students] which affects that classroom community that I really strive to have in my classes. So that has been probably the hardest part for me because I really enjoy my students. I like having them all together,” Hanson said. 
To help address student needs at this time, William Iavarone, director of counseling, is working in partnership with the dean of students to create an online portal for mental health crisis interventions and an online learning module that helps students figure out what they need. Iavarone has had to be creative in aiding students at this time, as the increased online learning and lack of break takes a toll.
“People that specialize in auditory, they say in that millisecond of delay between hearing the words in my mouth moving can really cause you to be disinterested,” Iavarone said. “We’re getting a lot more referrals [from Starfish], but when we reach out, we’re not getting as many responses.”
Although Augustana canceled spring break for this year, Kam Williems, director of disability services, believes it to be in the best interest of the community. 
“What they’re doing is best to keep the increase of COVID cases down. We’ve done well with keeping those numbers down and especially now with the vaccination,” Williams said. 
Hanson is in agreement with Williams that Augustana has attempted to support its students, faculty and staff in a unique way. 
“All the students got to do some level of pledging and rushing, and we’re having a homecoming and plays are happening, so I feel like it’s been a pretty creative response to support faculty, staff and students, and try to allow us to do as many normal things as possible,” Hanson said. “[The Administration] have been supportive of faculty and staff by allowing flexible hours and allowing people to choose to work from home.”
As the semester comes to an end, students hope that Augustana will continue to be compassionate and understanding with them during this difficult time.
“This is a serious virus and a lot of people aren’t putting education above their families, and not putting education above themselves, and they’re not putting education in front of their health and their well-being” Milone said. “I think Augustana could be a bit more lenient and a bit more forgiving when it comes to rules and guidelines during the pandemic because this is a big change for everyone.”