Borrok: Reflections on the past quarter

Ben Borrok, Opinion Editor

As I walk around Evanston and campus, I cannot help but think about what life would be like had COVID never spread across the globe. The empty storefronts in the downtown are a visible reminder of the spectre of disease that still hangs above us. As we descend into what could be the deadliest winter, with cases surging in Chicago, I am taken back to fear and unknown that was felt back in March. Except this time there isn’t the comfort of a community to help us power through the final days before we depart for break. The libraries are vacant, the Lakefill is eerily quiet, even for November. It has been disheartening to think of the time that could’ve been spent in Norris with friends, the revelatory nature of college football Saturdays and the nights studying in the Deering and Main Libraries.

I am well aware that this is time that myself and my classmates will not be able to get back. The world will continue to move forward and we cannot just put the rest of our lives on hold to retain the prototypical college experience. Four years were promised, and with the duration of the pandemic unknown, we may lose a full year or more of this adventure. It has been tough to handle, yet another weight on our shoulders already burdened by the anxieties and fears of the future.

I think that the pieces published by the Opinion Desk this quarter reflect a lot of these feelings, and I hope that our readers appreciated how personal our columnists got through their writing. It takes a lot of courage to reveal vulnerabilities, especially in college, where conveying a cool demeanor is so important for climbing the social ladder.

Zoom fatigue is a real feeling, and additional time spent in front of the computer, contributing brainpower to yet another task has taken a real toll on many. It may have acted as a deterrent for some who may have considered writing Opinion, making the work put in by our small desk all the more impressive. Not only were articles well-written, the topics chosen by these writers were varied, offering unique perspectives into everything from the election to their appreciation of sunsets.

Yet, I am eager to expand the desk, welcoming in those who haven’t seen their opinions or interests represented on the pages of The Daily. There is no specific agenda for Opinion writers, allowing them to express whatever is on their mind, but also means we are at the behest of their own biases. Regardless of how I feel about opinions contrary to my own, I understand the necessity for engaging in debate rather than remaining in a comfortable echochamber of reaffirming ideas.

I am hopeful that the return of more undergraduates to Evanston will reinvigorate the campus, leading to a support system that many will need in the coming months. I also hope that it will remind people of why they chose Northwestern, and what the school can offer when we are all together. Sure, it won’t be like pre-COVID days, with protocols remaining in place to deter the spread of illness, but it could be a step in the right direction.

The protests and pandemic have defined the past quarter, a microcosm of the country at large. Despite the anger and frustration that stemmed from these events, they have reaffirmed my belief that we will overcome this, that we, as a school, can cooperate to maintain the safety of the entire student body, from weekly testing and following procedures to protesting for better transparency from administrators. We have the power to make the best out of our current misfortune, something I think we all desperately need.

Negative and nihilistic thinking will only prolong our difficult experience, leading us to miss out on the opportunity to redeem what we currently have. Continuing to live to the best of our ability within the restrictions is the best way to face the next quarter and beyond. I wish for the health of everyone in the community and look forward to writing in The Daily after the extended winter break.

Ben Borrok is a School of Communication junior. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.