After an incredibly tumultuous semester of conflict, clashes, and controversy, Penn has found itself in a leadership crisis. I spent time nearly every day this term thinking about the issue of antisemitism, social movements forming at Penn, and how our administration was under fire from donors and (eventually) politicians. In what has seemed like an impending doom since October, Liz Magill’s resignation on Saturday sparked reactions from every corner of our campus.
At a certain point, students were robbed of their peace of mind. Many members of our campus feel like their identities have been swept under the rug, while our leadership failed to issue satisfactory responses. Uncertainty has plagued our daily lives. As a community, we are yearning for consistency and reliability.
When the complex and dramatic dealings of external politics are constantly cast onto campus discourse, it can be immeasurably exhausting. At the very least, Penn students should not feel preoccupied by the kinds of calamities currently unfolding. We have so much else we could be worried about.
Our situation has much more significant implications beyond Penn, many of which are directly tied to student identities. With that in mind, the administrative challenges on campus should not be at the forefront of students’ concerns.
This moment in time likely feels completely surreal. It certainly does for me, at least. However, our lives are still moving at a swift pace. With final exams on the horizon and a new semester just around the corner, it’s crucial that the Penn community finds itself in a place where we can move forward, pushing farther away from hardship, distress, and turmoil. Shifting our focus away from chaos will allow for growth.
Whether you agree with the necessity of a leadership change or not, our state of affairs has been decided. Now, the only thing we can control is our own future. That being said, Penn students should move forward with an open mind and prepare themselves for a safe and restful winter break. This week, remember to protect your mental state as you cross the finish line of the semester.
I’ve been lucky enough to see the resilience and perseverance our campus is capable of. Despite the blowback, my peers have had the courage to advocate for what they believe in and continue to excel in their academic pursuits. With optimism, we will be able to start off strong for the spring semester. By embracing new leaders, we can encourage unity and the pursuit of an unimpaired student experience for next year.
In the meantime, I would encourage fellow students and their families to engage in some reflection. Mindfulness can be a powerful tool for recovery and relaxation. Work hard as you prepare for finals, but don’t be afraid to treat yourself or engage in your favorite hobby. Finding joy in seemingly insignificant parts of your day will help guide you toward a state of ease.
At any point, if you feel emotionally distressed and want to pursue professional mental health solutions, Student Health and Counseling is an available resource. Otherwise, check in on your friends, see how your acquaintances are doing, and take care of each other. We’ve all been through so much up to this point, so keep in mind how you can help yourself and those around you.
At home this holiday season, take time to appreciate your friends and family. With resignations handed in, focus on what comes next: a chance to take time off and clear your head. Meanwhile, ongoing geopolitical concerns will continue to bring hardship to our community. As you finish up your final exams and projects, take solace in the fact that our return next year should allow us to have a fresh start.
JACK LAKIS is a College first year studying Political Science from Kennesaw, GA. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.