research & academia, youth development & education

Fall 2020 will be difficult

Dear students,

Fall 2020 will be difficult. We are entering a historically difficult semester, and this time we are entering it knowing that it will be difficult, unlike Spring 2020, a historically difficult semester that most of us entered unknowingly.

Life changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic less than six months ago. Even for those of us who have been mostly safe during that time, we may still be absorbing the shock of the enormous sudden changes we had to make to our personal and professional lives.

And many are dealing with harder things on top of that. Some of you may have been sick, or had friends or family members get sick, or even lost friends or family members. Some people may be coping with loss of jobs, housing, stability. Some people may be struggling with social isolation. Some people may be reeling from the ongoing police violence this summer, or may be exhausted from personal effort invested in the ongoing fight for racial justice. There is a lot. This Spring was a lot; this Summer was a lot.

This Fall? Will probably be a lot, too. This Fall will feature a U.S. presidential election amidst ongoing uncertainty, as we continue to watch the course of COVID-19 in our local and global communities, as we continue to seek equity and justice throughout our society. And, in the midst of all this, we will come together to learn and teach.

Just because we have had some time to prepare for online courses does not mean this is normal. I do not believe we have to normalize what we are doing in order to engage in it authentically. In fact, I believe that acknowledging at the start that this is hard, and weird, and this may be a hard and weird semester, will give us the psychological space to try our best given the circumstances.

My hope is that both the content and the community of this course will be meaningful to you, and will be a positive part of your life this Fall. I invite you to approach the course with that hope and to collaborate with me to fulfill it. We will spend some time in our first two sessions talking about the course goals, and guidelines we can use to pursue those goals. Think about what you want from the course, and what might help you get what you want and need this semester. I am here to help. Perhaps there are ways your classmates can help as well. 

We will get through this together as best we can. And together, perhaps we will not only get through, but also get something out of it, something that we can carry with us to whatever comes next, in our personal, professional, and political journeys.

Thank you for including me in this part of your journey. I look forward to working with you.


Dr. Arbeit

Published by Mimi Arbeit

applied developmental scientist, antifascist community organizer, sexuality educator