Winter storm Uri hits southwestern U.S.

ELLA BRIGHT
STAFF WRITER

Turbulent weather ripping across the Southeastern United States, the cause of the Winter Storm Uri, is likely a result of climate change further heating up the Arctic, say some environmental scientists.

In Texas alone, more than 30 individuals have died because of the harsh snowstorms and cold weather that have left many Texas residents without power and heat. As record-low temperatures moved throughout states like Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio and Oregon, power grids overwhelmed by high demand for heat implemented rolling blackouts to ease the strain.

Since Wednesday, Feb. 17 more than 1.6 million homes and businesses in Texas remained without power, and some also lost water service. Texas officials ordered 7 million people, which is a quarter of the population of Texas, the United States’ second-largest state, to boil their tap water before drinking it. The entirety of Austin, Texas is under a water boil notice, city officials announced that Wednesday night.

Many residents of Texas are frustrated with the power outages, wondering when they’ll be through with relying on huddling under blankets as their only source of warmth.

“We have zero confidence in ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) and Austin Energy caring about us or doing anything,” said Josh Sklar, a resident of northwest Austin, in an interview with USA Today.

“We are very angry,” said Amber Nichols, another Texas resident, in the same interview. “I was checking on my neighbor, she’s angry, too. We’re all angry because there is no reason to leave entire neighborhoods freezing to death. This is a complete bungle.”

Texas isn’t the only state in the United States being slammed with extreme weather conditions. On Monday, Feb. 15, residents of a coastal North Carolina community were struck with a tornado, which ripped through killing three residents and injuring 10.

The tornado reached wind speeds of up to 160 mph and several homes were destroyed, with several others left “severely” damaged. In total, at least 50 homes were affected and damaged in the tornado, according to a news release from Brunswick County Emergency Services.

There were four reports of tornadoes on Monday, Feb. 15, caused by the major Winter Storm Uri. Tornadoes also raged on and tore through homes and other structures, leaving at least four people injured in Florida and Georgia.

All in all, the damages from Winter Storm Uri in Texas alone will cost businesses billions of dollars.

Environmental scientists attribute it to the warming of the Arctic. Polar vortexes caused by a warming Arctic aren’t an abnormal occurrence, but they are usually more contained, the vortex and acting as a “lasso” of sorts, according to CBS News, and it keeps the cold air trapped inside. But the warmer the Arctic gets, weaker and longer the jet stream becomes, which allows the cold air to plunge south.

“Growing up in Texas, you’re often taught that Texas is the state that would be most likely to secede due to the fact that they have their own isolated power grid,” said Wiley Delisa (‘24). Delisa was raised in Texas, and more recently, has called Georgia his home.

“The problem with [Texas’ independence] is that now that they’re having a climate change induced extreme winter weather event, there is no way for them to handle their entire power grid going down and there’s not a lot that the federal government can do because they’re on an isolated power grid that was built in the 50s and 60s. There’s also the fact that they have senators who don’t care about them.”

As Texans and all those across the southeast wonder if there’s an end in sight, without power, it seems like hoping is unfortunately all they can do.

“I think this situation shows a lot about the values that we have in our country today, especially how we don’t care about each other,” said Delisa. “I think capitalism has bred this kind of environment where it’s every man for himself, and “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” extends to updating dangerously outdated technology.”

Trump acquitted by Senate

ZACH CARPENTER
STAFF WRITER

Donald Trump’s second articles of impeachment were taken up by the United State’s Senate on Feb. 9, for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol in Washington D.C.

Trump had already been impeached in the House of Representatives on Jan. 14 while still in office.

Trump was charged for having, “threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power and imperaled a coequal branch of government.” On those grounds, in a 232-197 vote that included 10 GOP Representatives who chose to vote to impeach Trump. The articles of impeachment were then sent to the Senate to be taken up at trial at a later date.

The trial began with a debate on whether or not the trial itself was constitutional, with House Impeachment Managers arguing it was constitutional to impeach a former president and Trump’s defense arguing it was not. Following eight hours of debate the Senate voted 56-44 to continue forward with the impeachment trial based on the legal precedent it was constitutional.

“The purpose of impeachment is to either expel a person from federal office if they are seen as dangerous to the Republic because they’re corrupt or because they’re dangerous to democracy itself,” said William Gorton, Associate Professor of the Political Science department.

In the case of Trump, Impeachment Managers appointed by the House of Representatives attempted to make the case before the Senate that Trump’s words were directly responsible for inciting the violence at the Capitol. They also argued that because of Trump’s outsized role in the leadup to the riot he should be disqualified from serving in future federal office.

Prosecutors opened their argument by saying that in his Jan. 6 speech at the Ellipse in Washington D.C., Trump addressed his supporters saying, “if you don’t fight like Hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” They also argued that statements such as that directly motivated his supporters to march towards the Capitol building in order to stop the certification of the Electoral College vote.

The subsequent hours saw the death of four people directly as a result of the violence and occupation of the Capitol by pro-Trump supporters.

Trump’s defense team argued that his words alone did not incite the riot and that the rioters acted on their own accord, having planned it in advance of Trump’s speech. They also argued that Democrats had been attempting to remove Trump from office since the beginning of his presidency and this was just another attempt to prevent him from holding the office in the future.

“I think that the second impeachment of Trump was just political theater and a useless waste of taxpayer’s money,” said Sawyer Hill (‘23).

Following a combined 32 hours of arguments from Impeachment Managers and Trump’s defense team the Senate had to decide whether or not to call witnesses in the trial. They ultimately decided not to, paving the way for a vote on whether or not to convict given all the evidence.

“After carefully listening to all the evidence presented in this trial, it is overwhelmingly clear that Donald Trump violated his oath of office by inciting a violent, deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol

and our democracy,” said Sen. Gary Peters (‘80) (Local 4 News). Both Sens. Peters and Stabenow of Michigan voted to convict Trump.

In a final vote of 57-43, the Senate voted to acquit Trump on the charge of inciting a riot. The vote marked the first time in U.S. history that a president has been impeached and acquitted twice. The vote also shows the loyalty many GOP Senators still have for Trump, even after he has left office.

“I think [the impeachment] was super predictable,” said Anika Ried (‘23). “He should have been convicted if only to stop him from holding federal office ever again.”

“[Trump] remains very popular with the Republican base…I imagine he’s going to start holding rallies again in anticipation of running for president again in 2024,” said Gorton.

Since the acquittal Trump has also been permanently banned from most social media platforms including his previous go-to Twitter, potentially complicating future campaigns.

Moving forward with the investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Congress has created a bipartisan investigative committee focused on understanding how rioters were able to get past security and into the Capitol. More hearings are scheduled for the near future.

Texas faces loss during winter storm

ALIVIA GILES
STAFF WRITER

WESTON HIRVELA
GRAPHIC CREATOR

At least 26 Texans are dead after a week of historically low temperatures. Since Feb. 11, millions living in the Lone Star state have been without power and left searching for food and water.

On Monday, Dallas dropped to five degrees Fahrenheit – the coldest temperature the city had seen since 1989. For the first time in over 30 years, Austin and San Antonio saw single-digit temperatures.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) – a grid operator that controls roughly 90% of the state’s electric load – announced it was experiencing a “record-breaking electric demand.”

Many Texas residents took to bundling up and staying in their cars, as state leaders opened about 135 warming centers and deployed the National Guard to conduct welfare checks.

By Tuesday, over four million state residents were without power. “[ERCOT] has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said.

While Texans tried to stay warm, officials reported a rising death toll, with fatalities linked to both the frigid temperatures and carbon monoxide poisoning.

By Wednesday morning, about 3.4 million customers were still without power in the state of Texas, leading Gov. Abbott to look into an investigation of ERCOT.

ERCOT CEO Bill Magness stated that the issue was primarily a lack of energy supply as low temperatures closed power facilities. According to Magness, the controlled power outages helped prevent the system’s collapse.

“If we had waited, and not done outages, not reduced demand to reflect what was going on, on the overall system, we could have drifted towards a blackout,” Magness said. “People feel like what we’re seeing [is] a blackout, but the blackout that [could have occurred] could last months.”

Meanwhile, Texas Senator Ted Cruz arrived at Cancun International Airport shortly before 8 pm on Wed. Cruz was met with backlash online from Liberals and Conservatives alike.

As the airport photos circulated on social media, Cruz’s team quickly released a statement.

“Like millions of Texans, our family lost heat and power too,” Cruz wrote. “With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon.”

Cruz went on to say he and his staff “are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas.” The explanation sparked further controversy, as many criticized Cruz for seemingly placing the blame on his children.

Shortly after noon on Thursday, Edward Russell, who works as the lead airlines reporter at Skift, revealed the senator had rebooked his flight back to Houston that morning. He had not been scheduled to return from Cancun until Sat.

On Thursday evening, text messages between Cruz’s wife, Heidi Cruz and her friends surfaced. “Our house is FREEZING,” Heidi Cruz wrote, going on to say their family “couldn’t stand it anymore,” before sending information on flights out of Houston.

By Thursday, nearly 290,000 people were without power, a substantial improvement from the millions affected by outages earlier in the week. However, the low temperatures continued, delaying a full recovery.

About 13.5 million Texans dealt with water disruption, as roughly 800 water systems reported problems such as broken or frozen pipes.

As bottled water became difficult to find in stores, some businesses began giving it out for free. Senator Cruz took to social media to share pictures of himself passing out water.

By Friday, Texas had seen little improvement, with almost half of the state’s population still experiencing water service disruptions. Approximately 190,000 homes and businesses remained without power.

Hospitals were heavily impacted by the week’s events. President and CEO of Houston Methodist Dr. Marc Bloom, who oversees seven hospitals around the city of Houston told CNN two facilities did not have water at all for days.

On Saturday, as 85,000 Texas homes were without power and water disruptions and decreasing supplies remained a threat, President Biden approved a major disaster declaration, which provides more federal resources to the state.

Power has now been restored in many areas of the state, but residents are still struggling to get clean water. President Joe Biden is set to travel to Houston, Texas on Friday, Feb. 26. He will be accompanied by first lady Dr. Jill Biden.

The past week has left many wondering what steps Texas should take to be prepared for severe winter weather in the future.

“Texas has to invest far more in basic infrastructure, that clearly is missing,” said Derick Hulme, Professor of Political Science. “And there has to be a commitment by the state to move forward aggressively [with renewable energy].”

Abrams among Nobel Peace Prize nominees

JORDYN BRADLEY, ZACHARY CARPENTER
SPORTS EDITOR, STAFF WRITER

Stacey Abrams–who rose to the forefront of American politics during the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election–was among nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize. The award is given out yearly to the person or organization deemed to have done the most to promote peace and democracy around the world.

Throughout the 2020 General Election, Abrams worked tirelessly through her non-profit, Fair Fight Action, which sought to increase voter turnout around Georgia, specifically with minorities who have long been oppressed within the state.

Through her efforts, Georgia flipped from Republican to Democrat during a presidential election for the first time since 1992 when Bill Clinton beat George H. W. Bush.

Additionally, she helped to lead Democrats John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to wins in their January 2021 runoff election over incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively.

“[Abrams] is being nominated for her work with voter registration…Voter suppression is illegal in this country, and there isn’t much, if any in Georgia in the year 2020,” said Matt Garland (‘23), a resident of Georgia.

“Were there to be legal voter suppression against American citizens and she did something about it, I’d feel a lot better about the nomination being given.”

According to Fair Fight’s website, they seek to, “promote fair elections in Georgia and around the country, encourage voter participation in elections and educate voters about…their voting rights.”

“I find it inspiring that her loss in [2018] drove her to start Fair Fight Action and become the face and facilitator of promoting crucial nonviolent change via the ballot box in 2020,” said Maya Dora-Laskey, professor of English, when asked her thoughts on the nomination.

Abrams was nominated by Lars Haltbrekken, a leading member of the Socialist Party of Norway.

Rounding out the list of others nominated for the award were: The Black Lives Matter movement for their role in fighting for racial justice and spreading racial awareness in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police (among others), Greta Thumberg for her role in spreading awareness about the dangers of climate change, Alexei Navalny for standing up to an oppressive regime in Russia and Jared Kushner for normalizing relationships between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, as well as other Middle Eastern nations.

“The shortlist isn’t usually prepared until March, so this is the unfiltered list and presents us with a contradictory range simultaneously grim and risible,” said Dora-Laskey.

“On this year’s list we have Stacey Abrams and Donald Trump who have been public with their disagreements and do not concur on issues and policies from the confederate flag to taxation or voting rights.”

Previous winners of the award from the United States include Barack Obama in 2009, “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Additionally, Al Gore won the award in 2007 and Jimmy Carter won in 2002, rounding out the winners from the United States during the 21st Century.

Beyond holding the distinction of being among few who have been named throughout history, the award also comes with a payout of 10 million Swedish Crowns (about 1.4 million dollars), a medal and the title, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

“The Nobel Peace Prize announcement is definitely a world-event and confers a lot of attention on the recipient(s),” said Dora-Laskey.

However, with a list of 210 people and 107 organizations nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize this early, that list has the opportunity to grow even more before the winner is announced in October.

“Given that thousands of people, including university professors, are able to nominate candidates, the nomination itself doesn’t account for much,” said Dora-Laskey.

“When we hear about the nominees it’s usually from the nominees or nominators–not from the Nobel committee, so the evidence to support their claims are somewhat circumstantial.”

Still, the list of nominees that was made public on Feb. 1 is drawing the attention of people around the world.

With 2020’s election results still looming, eyes are on Abrams to see what is to come. According to close allies of Abrams, she is strongly considering another run at Governor of Georgia in 2022, likely setting the stage for another election against current Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who won by a mere 50,000 votes the last time the two faced off.

Rochester Police pepper-spray 9-year-old

ALIVIA GILES
STAFF WRITER

Two police officers in Rochester, New York have been placed on administrative leave and another has been suspended for their involvement in the handcuffing and pepper-spraying of a nine-year-old girl.

According to Rochester Deputy Police Chief Andre Anderson, the officers were responding to a report of “family troubles” at 3:20 PM on Jan. 29. The officers were informed that the girl had “indicated that she wanted to kill herself and [her mother].”

Upon police arrival, the girl attempted to run away and was chased down by one officer. Following this, the child’s mother arrived and the two began to argue. At this point, Anderson said the officers decided to take the girl, with the intention of bringing her to a nearby hospital.

Body camera footage released by the police department shows the officers restraining the nine-year-old, attempting to get her into a police vehicle, as she cries and calls for her father. She can be heard screaming as the officers put her in handcuffs.

One officer in the video can be heard saying, “You’re acting like a child,” to which the young girl responded, “I am a child!”

At a later point in the footage another officer can be heard telling the girl, “This is your last chance, otherwise pepper spray’s going in your eyeballs.” Approximately a minute later, another officer said, “Just spray her at this point.”

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren has directed Anderson to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident, calling the events “simply horrible.” “Unfortunately, state law and union contract prevents me from taking more immediate and serious action,” Warren said.

On Mon. Feb 1, New York Attorney General Letitia James tweeted that her office would also be looking into the incident, calling the situation “deeply disturbing and wholly unacceptable.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo weighed in as well, stating that within the state of New York and the nation, the relationship between the police system and the community is “clearly not working.”

“Rochester needs to reckon with a real police accountability problem, and this alarming incident demands a full investigation that sends a message that this behavior won’t be tolerated,” Cuomo said.

Elba Pope, the mother of the nine-year-old involved in the incident is now speaking out. In an interview with The Washington Post, Pope announced her plan to sue the city over the events on Jan. 29.

On Tue. Feb. 2, Pope and her attorneys filed a formal notice, stating their intention of suing the city of Rochester for “emotional distress, assault, battery, excessive force, false assert and false imprisonment,” as well as potential violations of “constitutional rights.”

Pope also stated that she had advised the officers involved to call a mental health specialist. According to Pope, her daughter had experienced a similar breakdown just months before and had been denied help that time, as well.

This incident is not the only example of Rochester mishandling situations within communities of color where mental health issues were involved. Daniel Prude died at the hands of Rochester

police in September after being placed under a spit hood while experiencing a mental health episode.

Protests broke out in Rochester on Mon. Feb. 1, with people gathering outside of the police headquarters. Protesters could be heard chanting, “Look what you did, you just maced a little kid.”

Alma student Claire Wittlieff (’24) is frustrated by the lack of attention surrounding the events. “I did not even see any coverage on this incident until I was asked about my thoughts on it,” Wittlieff said. “That in itself speaks volumes.”

Wittlieff feels that suspending the officers involved in the incident is not enough. “I believe that further steps should be taken to ensure that something like this never happens again,” Wittlieff said.

Power to the People: the GME short squeeze

CLAIRE HIPPS
STAFF WRITER

The price of GameStop (NYSE: GME) grew dramatically over the period of just a few days in late January of this year, as well as a few other securities. At its peak, the stock reached a price of $500 per share, creating a stark contrast between its $17.25 value at the beginning of the year, according to data from Yahoo Finance. This was not due, however, to the release of a highly anticipated game or some other similar innovation from the company itself. This arose because of activity on reddit.

The subreddit r/wallstreetbets includes around 3.8 million members, all who could be classified as casual or “retail” investors. Members of this subreddit looked at the GME and recognized that it was being shorted (expected to depreciate in value) by short sellers.

From this observation came the idea that by buying up the shares available for public purchase, the members of the subreddit can trigger a short squeeze, which ultimately forces the value of the stock up very quickly.

A short squeeze can be triggered when short sellers, investors who borrow stock they don’t have at a high price to sell and later hope to buy the stock back for less than they borrowed it for, are forced to buy back their stocks at higher prices than what they originally sold it for in order to not lose more money.

This is bad news for the short seller, but good news for the stock. The buying back of these positions at high prices forces the stock to even higher prices, which meant high returns for members of the subreddit.

This short squeeze also had negative implications for hedge funds, which offsets risky investments by making counterinvestments that aim to cover the losses potentially incurred by said investments. Losses incurred by American firms exceeded $70B, according to a 2021 article by Reuters.

These large losses, and the way this squeeze came about, sparked the interest of Congress and the international community. “This really the first big case of what is essentially a social media group causing a big move in stock prices,” said Robert Cunningham, adjunct professor in economics here at Alma College.

“The hedge fund industry is very purposefully opaque in how it operates, and really only a relatively small number of people benefit from it. [Retail investors] joined up and made decisions that negatively affected a hedge fund’s profits—[that] is something worth following,” said Cunningham.

Caught in the controversy is Robinhood, a financial services company with an app popular with retail investors. Despite having famously said “let the people trade” in a 2016 tweet, they suspended the trading of GME and up to 13 other securities during the squeeze. Robinhood claimed that it did not have the required collateral to execute the high trade volume, but they also have contracts with hedge funds.

“One of Robinhood’s revenue sources is its ability to sell trading information to hedge funds, so I think Robinhood had to weigh the costs and benefits of executing trades on behalf of retail users, versus the costs and benefits of upsetting its large hedge fund partners,” said Cunningham.

Senator Ted Cruz and House Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez came out in opposition to this move by Robinhood.

“This is unacceptable. We now need to know more about [Robinhood’s] decision to block retail investors from purchasing stock while hedge funds are freely able to trade the stock as they see fit. As a member of the financial services committee, I’d support a hearing if necessary,” said Ocasio-Cortez in a tweet.

There will be a hearing on this matter hosted by the Financial Services Committee in mid-February.

Technology is constantly and consistently changing the world around us. For this reason, “average” citizens can communicate much more freely their ideas and make such things happen.

Biden-Harris Inaugurated

ALIVIA GILES
STAFF WRITER

After a tense election, followed by opposition from outgoing President Donald Trump and his supporters, Joseph R. Biden and Kamala D. Harris began their first term as president and vice president on Wed, Jan. 20.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic and concerns of another event like the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the inauguration committee was tasked with creating a smaller, safer celebration.

Security at the event was top priority, with over 25,000 members of the National Guard on duty for the inaugural ceremony and many areas of downtown Washington fenced off.

Tickets for the ceremony were limited and a public art exhibition on the National Mall took the place of the usual crowds.

The 59th Presidential Inauguration began with a prayer service at Saint Matthew’s Cathedral, the Catholic church where President John F. Kennedy’s funeral was held. Bishop William J. Barber II delivered the homily, joined by musical guests: Josh Groban, Patti Labelle and the Clark Sisters.

The Inaugural ceremonies began at about 10:30 a.m. Lady Gaga sang the national anthem, followed by a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” performed by Jennifer Lopez.

The event went on to welcome Amanda Gorman, who recently became the first national youth poet laureate. Gorman read an original piece entitled “The Hill We Climb”. Country artist Garth Brooks also contributed to the celebration with his performance of “Amazing Grace”.

The new president and vice president were sworn in shortly before 12 p.m. Vice President Kamala Harris was delivered the oath of office by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color to serve on the Supreme Court.

Harris was sworn in using a Bible that had belonged to Supreme Court justice and icon of the Civil Rights Movement, Thurgood Marshall.

As vice president Harris is the highest-ranking woman in United States history. She is also the first black person and first person of South Asian descent to hold the office.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administered the oath to Biden, who was sworn in using his family’s 128-year-old Bible.

President Biden completed the oath of office at 11:48 a.m., with his term officially beginning at noon (the 20th Amendment states that “terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of Jan.”).

Post-inaugural events followed, including the traditional “Pass in Review,” a ceremony that reflects the transfer of power to the incoming president.

The historic day finished with a primetime special hosted by actor Tom Hanks. President Biden and Vice President Harris delivered remarks. The special featured appearances from John Legend, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato and more.

The program acknowledged frontline workers and other Americans who have given back to their communities throughout the pandemic. The event also featured the first American to receive the Covid-19 vaccine outside of clinical trial.

Almost 40 million people tuned in to President Biden’s inaugural address, including Alma student Heather Kaatz (’24).

One of Kaatz’s favorite parts of the inauguration ceremony was listening to Amanda Gorman speak. “I thought [her poem], ‘The Hill We Climb,’ was very inspiring,” Kaatz said.

For Kaatz, the event brought a mix of excitement and relief. “As a country, we still have tons of work to do, but I feel we are taking a step in the right direction toward unification,” Kaatz said.

Kaatz is interested in how the new administration will approach the Covid-19 pandemic, “I think added restrictions and mask mandates will help allow us to get ‘back to normal,’” Kaatz said.

Samuel Nelson (’21) made sure to catch some of President Biden’s inaugural ceremony live. “[What I watched live], combined with coverage I saw through the day, struck me with a strong sense of trying to create something ‘normal’ again,” Nelson said.

For Benjamin Schall (’24), one of the best parts of the inaugural ceremony was the sense of optimism it inspired, “[It] made me feel hopeful that this administration will lead to true healing,” Schall said.

Schall is looking forward to President Biden’s approach to climate reform. “Biden is America’s current best hope for our future on this planet, and I hope that he leads the other Democrats in discussion and eventual action with finally implementing a Green New Deal,” Schall said.

Pandemic affects mental health

TAYLOR PEPITONE
STAFF WRITER

COVID-19 has easily taken so much from everyone. Indoor dining in restaurants has been restricted, public and recreational facilities are closed and some schools have moved their students online. Because of these limitations, many people are stuck inside of their homes to prevent spreading or catching the coronavirus.

While it is important to stay home when feeling ill, physical health is not the only health COVID-19 has affected. Studies are showing that mental health has been greatly altered. Healthing.ca stated that more than 50 percent of people have reported substantially high levels of distress specific to the pandemic.

Looking into specifics, research shows that more people are panic buying, excessively avoiding public places, and using unhelpful coping mechanisms, such as overeating and overusing drugs and alcohol. The pandemic has also been linked to a significant increase in anxiety and depressive disorders. Psychologytoday.com explained that university students show high levels of depression and increases in stress and loneliness.

“I believe that COVID-19 has, at times, negatively impacted students mentally,” said Kaelyn Wojtylko (’22). “Many students, especially those without roommates or a solid friend group, seem to be the ones impacted the most.”

UNR.edu conducted a study where they found that students are more easily bored, anxious, and frustrated during their now mostly virtual classes. It is evident that many students have lost or forgotten what their education means to them.

“So many students are having a lot of trouble learning with an online setting versus in person,” said Megan Hope (’24). “It is a lot more to keep track of.”

Many students struggle with trying to find motivation to keep up with classes and extracurricular activities. Having to keep a distance of at least six feet, constantly wearing masks, and avoiding large crowds or contact with others has caused many to feel much more disconnected from the world.

“It is super stressful trying to find ways to hang out with friends without getting in trouble for something that would normally be fine,” said Hope.

Schools and universities have had to implement restrictions and rules that many students are struggling to keep up with. It is hard to tell if these constraints will be permanently implemented, or if they are just a temporary approach to combat the coronavirus.

“I honestly hope that the restrictions are only for while we are learning more about COVID-19 and that we can go back to normal one day.” Said Wojtylko. “I find myself thinking about how things were last year compared to this year, and it kind of makes me sad.”

Not only has COVID-19 caused many students a lot of stress and mental deterioration, but it has also caused a decrease in enrollment for higher education. It is apparent that many students do not feel the need to continue to undergraduate or graduate school.

“Enrollment will likely decrease because of students not being able to keep up with the difference in learning,” said Hope. “I know some do not find going to college worthwhile if they cannot learn in person or be able to hang out with friends.”

With all that has been affected, researchers are coming out with more methods people can use to help cope with these new restrictions. The CDC released an article that provided healthy ways to

handle stress. They contributed methods like taking deep breaths, meditating, getting plenty of sleep, and taking time to unwind.

While it is very important to take care of yourself during these unprecedented times, it is also important to check in on friends and family to see how they are holding up. Although in-person contact is not recommended, things like phone calls or video chats can really help a loved one feel less lonely. Try to be there for those who have loved and cared for you.

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