Rachel Roca writes:
This semester is hard. That is not to say that every other semester is a breeze, but we are faced with unprecedented times. Our nation is in utter turmoil during this election season. We have continued to see the effects of systemic racism along with pervasive issues, adding to the numerous examples of why there is so much work and reform left to be done. This is compounded by the pandemic that is still wreaking havoc on the world. There is a lot to address — too much, it feels like most of the time. As we finish midterms week, and I make preparations for life after graduation, I feel a deep tiredness unlike other semesters. It is not a mid-semester lull, it is the stress of living in a world that is quite literally on fire. I acknowledge that I am privileged enough to deal with a relatively light weight on my shoulders, given all of these circumstances.
At Just Peace, we work to both spread awareness and take action in the community about social issues that need addressing. This can function as a modern day slavery awareness event, to the Period Project. We invite our members to bring forth the issues they are passionate about, and we aim to work with them to explore and create events around these topics. Just Peace is a safe place to learn about, raise your voice, and do something about the social issues in our communities today. We encourage you to vote, reach out to your representatives, sign petitions, and any other actions that you feel safe and comfortable participating in (please wear a mask and social distance while protesting!).
I also realize that this resistance is hard and tiresome. It takes intention to make sure you have a plan to vote, to get up out of bed and go to classes everyday, and to be joyful in these times. It is so important, now more than ever, that we take care of ourselves — our minds, bodies, and souls (if you believe in souls). Self- care is absolutely necessary; it is simply impossible to keep going, keep working without rest. The world is a better place when we are in a better place to engage and help each other and the world in meaningful and genuine ways. So please, stay connected with your loved ones and neighbors; support each other. I know this is so difficult with many of our MC community remote, and those on campus experiencing social distancing. My heart aches for our freshmen who may be struggling to find friends and a group during this time where socializing safely and meeting new people is limited.
Seeing this need in the community, Just Peace has launched the Pandemic Peace Pals! This Google form will allow us to friendship-match you with other Manhattan College students who are also looking for new friends and connections. Our goal is to build positive peace (the attitudes, institutions, and structures that provide flourishing) by strengthening our bonds as a community. The form does not take long to fill out, and you can be as descriptive or vague as you’d like. We only ask that you agree to three items: that Just Peace will read the submission and share your name and email with your pal(s), that you will treat your pal(s) with respect and compassion, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion, identity, etc., and that if you meet your pal(s) in person, you will follow social distancing guidelines and wear a mask.
Of course, if you are free on Tuesdays at 3:30, I invite you to attend our Just Peace meetings. I would be utterly happy to see you — all are welcome, at any time. We want to work with you and get to know you in our endeavors to make the world a better place. This semester we are meeting virtually. To get the links for our meets and events, you can check out @justpeacemc on Instagram or the Just Peace email list. If you have questions, want the link, or aren’t on our email list, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org! I will happily add you to our email list where you will be up to date on all of our events, and other events we think you should check out on and off campus. Plus, we very seriously uphold the tradition of adding a picture of adorable dogs at the end of every email update, in case you needed more convincing.
I’ll end with a few reminders. Please be aware, safe, and healthy. Be active and deliberate in both your communities and your self-care practices. Build a mutual support system with your loved ones. If you need/ want a friend, check out the Pandemic Peace Pals, or come to Just Peace!
Rachel Roca, Co-President of Just Peace