OPINION: The Common Good, Community, and the Coronavirus
Photo of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception taken by Sean Newhouse
After seven and a half semesters of working toward graduation, receiving last week’s news that we have to give up the end of our senior year has been devastating.
The moments of processing this news have felt heavy with the weight of all that we as a class would have to miss—the end of the year celebrations with classmates and faculty, weather warm enough for porches and hammocks and classes on Humanities Plaza, that one last monster cookie from Marycrest and marg from R Taco, and all the other small victories that come from watching four years worth of energy and investment come to fruition.
For me, the hardest part of all of this has been having to give up the chance to say my goodbyes and thank yous to those who have irrevocably shaped my time at UD and made this a place that is so hard to leave behind. I am filled with grief knowing that so many of my relationships have ended (at least in this space and context) before I had the chance to make peace with giving them up.
And, because a global pandemic is an extenuating circumstance, I’m going to indulge cliche and just say it—I love this community, and it hurts to give parts of that up before I was ready to.
But though I am incredibly sad to let go of the spaces where I have learned and encountered this community, I am strengthened by what UD has taught me about what it means to be together and what it requires to be together for the common good.
The community that I love has always been built on more than ease and proximity—again and again, community has required us to show up for each other in moments when doing so is hard and requires sacrifice. When being together physically puts the most vulnerable among us at risk, there is no way for us to be in community except by committing to being apart.
My education at UD has meant so much to me because of the ways my learning has been grounded in the common good. Inside and outside the classroom, I’ve learned that being for the common good means recognizing that we are only truly nourished by the good we are able to share.
Given the nature of a global pandemic, health is perhaps the most salient example of a common good. Now, more than ever, it’s abundantly clear that no one is safe and healthy unless we all are. Though receiving the news that in-person classes would not resume was devastating, I am grateful for leadership that chose to sacrifice our time together in order to put community first.
The first lesson everyone new to UD learns about community is an easy one—no matter how far away another person might be, it’s on you to hold the door open for them. The distance between us has changed and this lesson has gotten harder, but our imperative remains the same: it’s on all of us to step up, look out for those who might need us, and do whatever it takes to draw each other in.
To everyone who has held the door open for me over the course of my time at UD—I want to say some of my thwarted goodbyes and thank yous. This campus community has given me a home I didn’t realize I needed in a city I never expected to love. I am a better person because of what my relationships here have made possible. It has been a privilege to grow with and learn from you all.
Leadership and staff have worked tirelessly (and often without thanks) to make our campus a home defined by love and aspiring toward justice. My professors have been generous enough with their time, care, and energy to form me into a better student and person and treat me with compassion that has far exceeded what’s required of them as educators.
My classmates (especially those in my human rights cohort, you guys are the best) have inspired and energized me with their passion and insights and have given me the encouragement necessary to grow into the learner I am proud to be. And my friends have taught me so much about what it means to love and to be loved. To all of you—thank you.
To everyone at UD currently working to find ways to hold the door open even when our campus has to close— leadership in HR who have committed to continue paying dining services until at least the week of April 5, faculty and staff who have donated protective supplies to healthcare workers, those who have helped turn UD arena into a site for remote COVID-19 testing, and those who will continue to make sure that those dependent on UD’s resources continue to receive them—thank you.
And, to my seniors—thank you. I am sad to lose the rest of this time together, but I am grateful to have gotten these pretty magical seven and a half semesters to be together. I look forward to seeing you all again, even though it cannot be in May like we planned.
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