Students with strong connections to Israel and Gaza are wrestling with a hard question: How can you worry about submitting quizzes or revising rough drafts when your homeland is in its greatest time of need? In a time when our world is seemingly trying to reject us, it seems exasperating to prioritize academia and grades in addition to condemning violence and praying for the safety of family and friends. How do we focus on assignments when all we can think about is how broken the world is?
The answer is simple: we can’t. Not fully. It’s impossible to carry out any task without facing recent events. It comes to us in the shower, it sneaks up on us as we try to sleep, and it festers during quiet study sessions when all we can hear is the reality of our hurt, wounded people. Regardless of politics or religion, our mental health is in the hands of the tragic happenings in the Middle East. Our identities as students have been engulfed by our identity as global citizens. It seems trivial, frivolous even, to try and pursue academic interests when we watch the world burn.
Franklin & Marshall is home to some of the kindest and most understanding staff I have ever had the pleasure to meet. In this time of great need, faculty and professional staff have been supportive in realizing that readings, quizzes, and Reacting to the Past games are not the top priority for some of its student population. Right now, we are having a difficult time reacting to the present. As we learn to navigate what it means to be a student during this seemingly doom-ridden time, FPS should continue extending its support to the campus community. We come to college to study and explore, but our identity as students is currently, unfortunately, not our most formative. I would be impressed if somebody with family in the situation could eat a full meal, never mind writing essays and thesis defenses.
How do we move forward? That question remains to be answered. Often, we try to take care of ourselves and inevitably fall back into a cycle of hopelessness and despair. However, I have never seen communities come together as quickly as I have over the last month. Suddenly, involvement no longer feels like an obligation; it feels like the solution. We must continue to seek refuge in each other and extend support to all of our peers. FPS must continue to recognize that unfortunately in our current state, schoolwork pales in comparison to survival.
I’m proud of every soul who woke up this morning. Once we have done that, the rest is ours to choose.
Senior Yael Asofsky is a contributing writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.