By Anna Synakh || Managing Editor
I have recently realized that I do not love F&M the way I loved it my freshman year. To be honest, I am not sure I love it at all. I love the people that I have met here. I appreciate the professors that have made me into the person I am today. I am thankful to the staff that has made the past three years go as smoothly as possible. But, F&M as an organization has disappointed me over the past year like I never imagined it would.
The latest disappointment came as I read through the February 16th PORT email. There, hidden among the PORT statistics, was the Incident Reporting Form calling students to report each other’s misbehavior and noncompliance with the F&M Pledge. The form requests your fellow students’ names, addresses, their ID number, photos of the incident. The students are now asked to be policing each other. The school’s continuous attempts to distance itself from any type of responsibility for anything that occurs on campus in regards to COVID-19 has reached a new low in my eyes; that responsibility was now fully pushed onto the students, and in the crudest form possible, destroying the years of connections and friendships made along the way.
Like many other F&M students, I chose this college because of a single feeling. It was the only school that attracted me not because of its reputation, ratings, or course programs. No, what attracted me was a feeling. A feeling of ease and serenity the second I stepped on campus my senior year of high school. I saw people here who were connected and content, supportive and supported, and I wanted to be one of them. Now, those feelings are gone, they have been erased by the school’s outright dismissal of the student bonds that I so craved on that Open House day. Those feelings have been crushed by the school’s encouragement to avoid direct confrontation and take the issues up to administration, without ever clearing up the situation one-on-one.
While, yes, I hope that we all follow the pledge and act responsibly at this time, this is no time for division. The school’s goal should be to unite us, to uplift the so-called F&M community they love to call on in their daily emails. The goal should be to ensure that we act responsibly because we care for each other; because we all chose to be here and because each of us plays a crucial role in our F&M experience. Yet, they have decided to take on a different path: A path of division, anger, and frustration, because those are the emotions that students are already experiencing towards the school, and each other. My fellow junior put it best saying that “this past week, F&M’s lack of trust and antagonizing of its own students have made me feel resentful towards them.” I too have begun resenting F&M.
I was one of many students choosing to study remotely last semester, as I was afraid of the pandemic, and had already had my fair share of suffering for the year. Remotely, I watched my friends have a safe semester, still full of joy, and unity; a unity that they created themselves rather than one encouraged by the school. The school mainly forgot about the remote students. We got no F&M masks all on-campus students received. No merch or care packages were sent to us. No attempts were made to make us feel connected, other than more Zoom hours, on top of our online classes. I was frustrated and began to realize that I loved F&M not for F&M itself but for the people that I have met along the way. So, this semester, I chose to come back. I needed my people and not just those closest to me, but everyone that made F&M my second home. Now those people are being taken away from me, as we are being put against each other, told to watch those around us, rather than look out for them. Told to attach sneaked photos and videos of those we are supposed to call our classmates, teammates, and most importantly friends.
Again, I urge everyone to follow the pledge and act as best as they can considering the situation in which we have resided for the past year. I understand that many feel frustrated and annoyed with those on campus disrespecting the rules, and this is in no way a call for you to not feel frustrated, or not use the form if you deem it necessary. This is simply my dissatisfaction with the school’s recent policies of creating distance and division not only between the students and the administration but also within the student community itself. So, do what you must, but please try to remember that we are still a community no matter what the school throws at us next, and we must act accordingly whatever that means to you.
Junior Anna Synakh is the managing editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.