Students in the pandemic have been under a lot of stress, whether they’re learning virtually through Zoom classes, or are learning in person with social distancing. As the pandemic is reaching the one year mark, it’s easy to see the decline in quality of both life and work done by students. When learning through Zoom, students find it hard to pay attention to what is being taught, and oftentimes students feel overwhelmed with the amount of homework assigned when learning virtually. Here at ONU, last semester was an early start/early finish calendar. Despite having the same number of weeks in the semester, and no breaks, it felt as though professors were trying to cram in more information in. As the semester progressed, the lack of breaks was detrimental to the wellbeing of students.
Burnout has always been a thing, but it’s much more prevalent now that students have been learning during the pandemic for a year. On top of burnout, most events have been virtual, or socially distanced, which can make it hard to interact with peers and feel connected to the campus community. Even more social distancing was implemented in the freshman dorms, where most dorms house a single student. This can also deter students from being involved in the wonderful things ONU has to offer and can make them feel isolated during a big change in their life.
For this reason, I feel that emotional support animals (ESAs) should be more accessible to students on campus. The counseling center does not write any ESA recommendations, but they do refer students to outside therapists and counselors to write the recommendations. I respect this because I understand that not everyone needs an ESA and would rather just like to have an animal with them.
However, in the midst of a pandemic and financial instability, it would be nice to see ESAs more accessible on campus. Therapy is expensive and some insurances don’t cover it, or will only cover a portion of the cost. Another drawback to the referrals is that most therapy has moved to virtual/ tele-therapy right now which could make it harder to feel comfortable with the referred therapist, whereas students who have gone to the counseling center enough to consider having an ESA will already be comfortable with their counselor.