This is Connor Buckmaster, student in the Writing Arts major and Head Intern for the Writing Arts Department. Speaking on behalf of myself and the Writing Arts Interns, I feel compelled to reach out to our students, to meet everyone where we find ourselves in light of the coronavirus and as we end the first week after transitioning online. I want to take a moment to share the thoughts and feelings I’ve been grappling with, as well as my vision for our community moving forward.
These last few weeks have been chaotic, filled with uncertainties. As we return to this semester, we enter into not only a different academic environment, but a different world. I think it’s important first to distinguish this: our community has never experienced a challenge like this before. In talking with friends and peers, many have voiced concerns about what the remainder of the semester will look like; there is a feeling of overwhelming uncertainty in the air. Yet I have also noticed, in the face of this anxiety and uncertainty, an overwhelming sense of support. It has grown naturally, from the ground up among students and friends, and top down from the department and professors. So it’s important, too, to distinguish this: our community is in this together.
Our professors have been working tirelessly to move their classes online. For many students, having five online classes may be overwhelming, and balancing this presents its own challenges. Our professors recognize this. I’ve spoken with several about their plans moving forward and how they hope to support their students. They’ve provided encouraging, thoughtful messages to their students; like Amanda Haruch, who told her students “they are important to me as people, and that I'll do what I need to to ensure their success.” Professor Haruch has created mental health and meme chats where her students can talk, seek support, and brighten each other's days. Jason Luther shared this message in a video posted to his Youtube channel, “I really want to think about how writing can help us in this moment. [...] What I’m [concerned] about is how you are going to balance five classes in this new environment. So I’m just trying to think really thoughtfully about that, and [make] sure you’re in a good place.” These messages echo what countless other professors across our department and across the university are striving to do: provide support and flexibility moving forward.
To me, these messages speak to the power of writing. Writing will unite us. Writing will be our direction forward, our tool to overcome the new challenges we face. Already, this movement has begun. Students and professors are using every form of writing to support each other. We will get through this together. We will use writing to overcome and thrive.
To our professors, I want to say thank you for your flexibility, thoughtfulness, and leadership as we walk into these uncharted lands. To the students, I urge you to prioritize your mental health and overall wellness, to advocate for yourself, and to keep an open communication between your peers and professors. If you need support, contact your Writing Arts professors, the Dean of Students, or the Wellness Center. There is online counseling available via Therapy Assistance Online (TAO); you can log in using your Rowan email. The CCCA has also created a COVID-19 informational page where you can find resources for advising, learning remotely, disability resources, and more. In addition, SHOP will continue providing resources to students with food insecurity.
This community of writers, of administrators, students, and teachers, has touched me deeply. I’m moved by the support I see, radiating from all corners. Though the context has changed, the content, the outstanding people inside our community, has not.
Above all, know that you are a valuable member of our Writing Arts community and that everyone is trying to make the best out of this difficult time. Stay safe, and hopefully I’ll be seeing you in the not-too-distant future.
The Writing Arts Interns
Connor Buckmaster, Tara Grier,
Marissa Stanko, & Matt Berrian