By: Caroline Gerla and Kelly Singer
In March of 2020, universities across the nation made the decision to send students home as a result of the growing number of cases throughout the country. This not only created a lot of anxiety universally but also led to the depreciation of university students’ mental health. We have recognized that there has been a switch in student opinions toward the pandemic and it’s shown that students have a more casual attitude now than they did in early March before getting sent home.
COVID-19 has created a lot of uncertainty in the world among people of all ages. Returning to campus has been extremely stressful as there is so much unknown. Campus life has been completely altered as extra precautions need to be taken to ensure the safety of students and the community. Tulane’s decision to return to in-person learning was a difficult yet successful task as the university has taken extra measures to have students tested multiple times a week while monitoring their symptoms daily.
For our short documentary produced in our service-learning course, Media for Community Health, we decided to focus on how the Tulane students are handling the pandemic; by doing so, we chose to focus on the New Orleans community and interview both students and locals. We wanted to hear their opinions on how they think that the Tulane students have been handling the pandemic after returning to campus this fall semester. The intention of this short documentary is to remind viewers that their perception of risk during the pandemic affects everyone else around them.
The interviews that we were able to include in our documentary gave us insight into how locals and other students were feeling about the pandemic. During the interviews, we asked questions such as “What do you think about the efforts Tulane has made for opening campus this fall?”and “Do you believe the students have impacted the pandemic in New Orleans overall?” In the documentary, we also feature an interview with our professor, Betsy Weiss, who shared her opinion on how the students are handling the pandemic.
Professor Weiss shared with us the measures that were taken to help professors prepare for virtual learning in an attempt to keep students engaged in the curriculum; she also mentioned how she understands that university students are going to have anxiety about weekly testing and also from the uncertainty of what next semester or even tomorrow will look like. Hearing different perspectives is very important and it was beneficial to hear a professor’s point of view regarding how students have been handling the pandemic.
There has been an extreme switch as university students have returned to an environment that feels abnormal, requiring even more adjustments to college life than usual; the incoming freshmen especially are left to enter a completely new environment and it isn’t necessarily what they were expecting. It is very important to find healthy outlets and seek help to deal with stress and anxiety. Seeing friends and socializing is still necessary to boost mental health, but extra precautions need to be taken like social distancing.
For assistance with mental health issues and crisis support, the Line is available 24/7 to Tulane students. Call or text The Line at (504) 264-6074.