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GUEST COLUMN: Thank You, Students; Let’s Finish Strong


The Central Michigan University seal sits in front of Warriner Hall Aug. 25 on CMU's campus.

We began this academic year knowing that this would likely be the most difficult academic year any of us had ever faced, coming out of a spring and summer of unrest, disorientation and uncertainty. 

We were worried more than we would like to admit -- what if we couldn’t get the technology to work? What if students refused to wear masks? What if we became ill and couldn’t teach? What if something tragic happened to one of you during the semester? How would we maintain our mental and physical health being isolated by necessity, when so much of our academic experience is fundamentally face-to-face?

Our concerns quickly dissipated when the semester began. You all were so kind, forgiving, mask-compliant and patient with us when it mattered most. And for that, we thank you. 

And to those kind souls who consistently sat in empty classroom spaces with us as we balanced teaching to students through a webcam and those in front of us, thank you. To those who attended classes remotely and were brave enough to unmute your microphones and broadcast your voices across an unfamiliar modality, thank you. To those who kept the chat window alive with insights, good questions, humor and goodwill, thank you. Your participation and enthusiasm kept us going. All of you injected life and hope in a pandemic where they were scarce. 

We will all walk away from this moment with memories we never could have predicted we’d keep - cursing whatever technology glitch ransacked our classes, laughing over the absurdity of talking while muted, talking too loudly, or unexpected guest appearances by cats, dogs, partners, parents and guardians, and children. 

As professors, we watched you support each other with emoji claps and chat-bound shout-outs. You knew this would be hard, and you did it anyway. You told us how you missed us - and we sat with the disappointment over our own longing to see your faces, hear your laughter at our terrible and rehearsed jokes, and what we took for granted: entering the classroom to your conversations with one another. 

It did not take a pandemic for any of us to realize how much we need one another for growth, but COVID-19 made it clear. We need one another for inspiration, for hope, for the fire that brought us to Central Michigan University to keep burning. COVID-19 showed us how to be stronger together. 

And here we are. 

We have just a few days left before finals week starts on May 3. You are on the last mile of a marathon year. Let’s finish this year just as we began – arms and spirits, linked. If you need help getting across the finish line, unmute! Talk with someone in the counseling center. Talk with your resident assistant. Reach out to your instructors. Talk with a friend. Let’s get over the finish line and leave this academic year knowing our resolve and resiliency are unflappable. 

Thanks for all you do and all you have done. Thank you for being those forces in the universe that helped us keep moving when we weren’t sure we could. You are the light in the darkness. Let’s shine so bright, we’ve gotta wear shades. 

Thanks again, students. 

Matt Johnson, Faculty Association President

Amanda Garrison, Faculty Association President-Elect