I think it is safe to say that 2020 has been a terrible year. From COVID-19 and quarantine, to famous celebrities passing away, to the stress of the upcoming presidential election, it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. 

With everything going on in the outside world, is it possible that ISU is disregarding students’ mental health?

When the university decided to abruptly close in March, many students were left jobless and forced to return home. For some students, home is an unaccepting, unsafe and unloving environment. 

Online classes became more stressful; professors were unprepared to convert their in-person classes to online courses. 

The quality of our education decreased, but the price remained the same. And we received no tuition refund.

Fortunately, offering pass/fail classes provided some relief. However, this did not cancel out the fact that many students never received any refund from any expenses—parking passes, tuition, commuter meal plans, etc. 

On-campus students received a minor refund from their housing. Presidential Scholars also received a refund.

Although ISU couldn’t have predicted a pandemic, they should have offered partial tuition refund because many paid for in-person classes.  

Additionally, the university’s lack of transparency regarding the fall semester’s plans only created more feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. 

Student move-in was a stressful time, especially for first-year students. Only two guests were allowed to help move in and students only had an hour to do so. Some students even moved in a week before their roommate did.

In addition, Residential Life has implemented a strict ‘no-guests’ policy. Only students living in residential halls are permitted to be in said halls. If outside guests are caught, students and their guests can be sent to Student Conduct and Integrity.

Let’s break this down: first-year students moved in and only had a trivial timeframe to say goodbye to their families. If their roommate was not moving in for another week, students were practically isolated because of the ‘no-guests’ policy. 

If I were a first-year student under those same circumstances, I would be undoubtedly be struggling with my mental health. 

Following move-in, the university was not transparent about positive COVID-19 cases and students in quarantine. It was not until roughly a couple of weeks after move-in that the university created the COVID-19 dashboard.

If students are quarantined in the University Apartments, then their mental health is at an increased risk. They are responsible for completing their coursework and contacting their professors and employers.

Quarantined students are also being charged for three meals a day, which is an expense that some cannot afford. They are isolated, stressed and lonely. Understandably, their mental health is at risk.

Inevitably, socially deprived students gathered, and COVID-19 numbers increased, the university used Fraternity and Sorority Life as a scapegoat. Greek Life was temporarily suspended.

In other words, first-year students were already struggling adjusting to the ‘new’ normal and prohibiting them from joining Greek organizations only contributes to feelings of isolation and depression.

Not to mention, hybrid classes are overwhelming. Course work has increased, material is becoming more confusing, and students are practically responsible for teaching themselves for the same price of a “normal” semester.

The university is attempting to limit large gatherings by closing the cafés in Federal Hall and Stalker Hall. Meaning, more students are gathering in the Commons and Dining Hall. How can this be a solution?

Additionally, if students are getting take-out at the Dining Hall, they are all allotted 15 minutes to get their food and leave. Otherwise, they will be charged additional credits. As we all know, the Dining Hall is almost always crowed, so how can this be a solution?

To top it all off, the university has cancelled spring break. Winter break will be extended by a week and finals week will remain the same. 

Meaning, students are expected to sustain the entire 16-week semester without a break. I believe this is asking for a mental health crisis.

It begs the question, is the university deliberately disregarding students’ mental health to earn profit?