Kelsee Brady, managing editor
At Berry, we have allowed a certain type of student to succeed. This student is involved in multiple organizations on campus, usually works at least one job on campus (if not more) and is involved with one of our major scholarships. On top of all of those obligations, this student is expected to maintain good grades, have a decent social life and take general care of themselves.
This is the ideal Berry college student, and while it seems like a great idea to have a super involved person on campus, the reality is much different. This student runs on little sleep and suffers from mental and physical fatigue. Working, taking classes full-time and going to club meetings and events each and every week leaves very little time to actually get any rest.
Take me for example. I work 16 to 20 hours a week and I am taking 15 credit hours this semester. I am also a Gate scholar, which is fantastic, but only because it allows me to accumulate less student loans. I take home less than 20% of my paycheck every two weeks and while I may not have as many student loans, my credit card debt only continues to increase. I am stressed due to a combination of being overworked, overcommitted and mentally, physically and e m o t i o n a l l y exhausted. This reality should not continue.
When I first toured at Berry, I remember how amazing the student work program sounded. Every student is guaranteed a job and you can work in so many different places. It was made out to be this fantastic opportunity that allows you to build your resume and learn outside of the classroom, but the reality is that through the program, Berry students run this campus.
Without students to supervise and lead departments, Berry wouldn’t function. And I’m not just saying this; I have seen it happen first-hand. After everyone left Berry in mid-March, I was one of the first students to return back to campus in May. I came back to work as part of my scholarship requirements, but the entire situation just felt like an effort for Berry College to prevent themselves from losing more money. If Gate scholars hadn’t come back to campus, Berry would have had to continue funneling more money into the program because we weren’t earning money to go towards our tuition. At the end of the day, I felt like nothing more than a dollar sign because why else would Berry risk bringing back students in the middle of a pandemic?
Quarantine was weird for everyone, but one of the reasons that it felt so weird for me was because I didn’t have to work. I had so much more free time to focus on my school work and spend time with my family. It was a stark contrast from my experience at Berry, but I was grateful for the break.
Honestly, I don’t know what people meant when they say that college is the best four years of your life, but what I do know is that college should not feel this difficult. Beyond the “Berry Bubble,” life has to be easier. I can’t imagine that when Martha Berry established this school in 1902, she envisioned students working nonstop and not having time to take a breath.
Having so many obligations across campus creates a suffocating environment that can make it feel like there is no true meaning to any part of the Berry experience. I’m not asking for time off from work or an excuse to not go to classes and rest instead, I just want some recognition and acknowledgement for the time and effort that I put into Berry.