The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday October 28th

Column: Dear sister, again

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Dear sister,

It’s been a year since my last letter to you. This one was supposed to go so differently. I had planned on writing a sappy little note about how much you’ve grown since your first year — how much you inspired me, how I kind of admire you for stealing my clothes even in college (I have to take an inventory of my closet every week now, thank you) and how I will miss you so after graduating this year. I really will.

But it’s been a year and you’ve witnessed how this joint has so little regard for their hard-working campus workers and staff, students of color, community members and activists. How this place has completely mishandled a global pandemic and its impact in both statewide and student contexts. How this institution has made a mockery of our needs by harboring racism, fear, elitism and, scariest of all, denial throughout campus. You’ve heard the administration dismiss widespread anxieties, frustrations and unrest with phrases like, “We tried to move forward.”

There's so much I love about this school that I hoped to share with you: professors who believed in me, who introduced me to subjects and interests that changed my life; new friends and loves and even campus unicorns that have brought me joy and so many excited 'hellos' on the way to class. A beautiful green quad on which to sit and make laughter, and diverse passions that have emboldened me to become a better person. I do not take those times for granted, and I hope you can experience all of that and more.

But it’s been a year and you’ve also seen the mishandled (or not handled at all) inequities and injustices and uncertainties we’ve expressed anxieties about over the phone for months. Today you’re at home with our family, instead of waving to your passing friends or eating Med Deli amid burbling conversations on the quad. You’re taking online classes from your room because our institution could not foresee, — despite the loudly voiced concerns and petitions of students, parents, professors and community leaders — an easily predictable COVID-19 positivity rate explode in the span of just a week

“I don’t apologize for trying," they've told you. And now you know that your experiences, your sufferings, your safety, your health and even your expensive learning — they are all pitted against the cold background of a university that could not be bothered to care.

Dear sister, I want to tell you not to worry, that it’ll get better. And in so many ways, it will. I am hoping you will be able to return to some semblance of normalcy as a college student — with the introduction of a reliable vaccine, strengthened national social responsibility and effective global health policy initiatives on a domestic and international scale. 

Don’t let tough times get you down. I look at you now and I see a strong woman. A bouncy sun in my life and in that of many others. There is yet some warmth to feel, if not from the leaders of our institution, then from the soul-filling connections and giggly remembrances you will still experience, by yourself and with your friends, in time. Dear sister, you are not alone. For now, saddle up and make some tea, we’ll laugh and learn from home.

Love, your big sis

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