First and foremost, I want to say that my top priority during this crisis is the health and safety of our student body and our university community. I am confident this priority is shared by the administration and I believe the actions taken thus far are justified and necessary.
Still, I cannot help but think of how unfair all of this is. Over the past few days, I have bounced between feelings of grief, anger and helplessness.
I have grief for the loss of my senior year. Spring in Oxford feels like a reward and a celebration. We — the largest class in the 172-year history of Ole Miss — were set to spend our final weeks in Oxford. Our incredible and historic run, our celebration, will likely be cut short.
I have anger for the people who are most vulnerable to the virus: those who are immunocompromised, the elderly, folks on the frontlines of the outbreak and those threatened by an unstable economy, particularly students who rely on employment or services from the university.
I feel helpless in the fact that it seems all I can do is sit on my couch and wait.
These are difficult times we are living through. I know that I am not alone in harboring feelings like these, and I do believe it is a natural response. However, I encourage you, as you battle these feelings of despair, to practice patience, forgiveness and kindness. You have every right to feel sad, upset and indignant, but keep things in perspective. We are fighting a global viral pandemic; people all over the world have died, lost loved ones, fallen ill, had celebrations cancelled, lost jobs, gone on lockdown and much more. Things are indeed unfair. The virus has impacted virtually every single person on the face of the planet.
So I encourage you to practice patience because we are — quite literally — all in this together. Be forgiving, because the challenges we are facing right now have not been seen by any person alive today. There is no doubt that mistakes have been and will again be made, but we must respond with unity to continue moving forward. Be kind, because the people around you are anxious, worried, and hurting.
Keep in mind that these are truly unprecedented conditions. With your professors, with your food delivery workers, with your healthcare workers, with your friends and, above all, with yourself: be patient, be forgiving, and be kind.
I have been in contact with the administration to advocate for students as we transition off of campus and into online classes. I will continue to work with the Associated Student Body (ASB) and other student leaders to ensure we are always taking the best next step. ASB elections will be conducted online in the coming weeks, and these leaders will be tasked with helping to forge the path forward. Even though the campaigns will undoubtedly look different than they would in a normal year, I encourage you to pay close attention, participate and vote.
Use this time to do something worthwhile. Read a book, learn a new skill, reflect and engage with yourself. When you tell your grandchildren about this, as you surely will, I hope you can say that you made the most of it. I hope we are able to say that we emerged stronger than before.
I am praying for the health and safety of you and your families. I hope to see you all back on campus soon. Until then, wash your hands and be thankful for all that UM has given you.
With extreme gratitude and love,
Barron Mayfield, ASB President