Arts & Entertainment

“Fighting the Flame of Burnout: LWGRC Hosts Slow Burn Roundtable”

by Jilleen Barrett & Caroline McCarthy, Asst. A&E Editor & Staff Writer  The Lasallian Women and Gender Center teamed up with Women in Business to continue their ongoing series called Slow Burn, where students discuss their experiences with burnout. This lecture primarily focused on the effects of burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jordan Pascoe, Ph.D. was involved in the creation of the series during the fall of 2019. The event typically has only one speaker, but they chose to utilize students to speak to their experiences with burnout on the panel, creating a more personal touch.   Pascoe wrote in an email about how she felt the issue of burnout needed to be discussed on campus more. She noted that it largely affects women, which is why she saw it as important to have female-led groups address the problem. “Stress and burnout are some of the most common experiences we see in students (and faculty) in the LWGRC, and we think this is both a gendered problem, as well as a generational one,” Pascoe wrote. “Students often feel like they need to be ‘on’ all the time, and like there is no distinction between their work and their leisure, and there’s no point where the student workday is ‘over.’ And this is often worse for women, because of how entitled both people and institutions tend to feel to women’s time, labor, and emotional support.”

The ongoing series dismantles the stress culture that rewards overloading and encourages burnout. @MC_LWGRC / COURTESY

Samantha Walla, a Gender Justice Advocate within the LWGRC, was the student host of the panel. In her opening remarks, she addressed that the issues of burnout were not expected to be solved in a 50-minute period, but rather to be explored and addressed.  “It’s not really like anybody’s an expert here, and I don’t want any of the panels to feel like they have to like offer strategies or fix the problem of burnout,” Walla said. “[The panel is] really to expand the conversation and like get everybody feeling like you’re not alone.”  Sophia Sakellariou, a second semester senior studying remote this semester, initiated the discussion by addressing how burnout is affecting her as she attempts to finish her last few courses of college at home. “When I was living on campus with friends, they would kind of calm me down in a way, like if it’s a Friday afternoon and I’m working on something,” she said. “But now that I’m home, I don’t have that, so I literally will just work through weekends so by Monday, I’m exhausted.” The event was organized as an opportunity for women at the college to adjust to what can feel like a male-dominated environment, while balancing personal and professional relationships and challenging the stereotype of a woman who “has it all.” This semester, the event has evolved to include the male perspective as Joseph Corrao was invited as a panelist.  Corrao, a second semester junior civil engineering major, spends most of his time travelling to and from campus as a commuter student. His schedule is more scattered than other commuters because of his major, and he typically finds himself on campus from early in the morning to eight or nine o’clock at night.   After a stressful semester of never-ending homework, projects and commuting, Carrao also finds himself fighting the burnout.  “When I’m feeling good is when I procrastinate,” Carrao said. “And then I end up doing all my work when I’m tired.” One of the most prominent voices in the conversation was Andrea Gorrin, an English major living on campus. Though she is a student learning in-person, she has felt the effects of burnout while taking several courses online. “In terms of Zoom and Google meet, it’s been super hard for me, but I think it’s also because of the fact that I’m not used to being stuck in front of my cell phone or my computer all the time,” Gorrin said. “It’s hurt me a lot. I miss that dynamic of the classroom.” Ashley Cross, Ph.D. was a key organizer of this meeting and noted that she felt the same way about learning virtually. “One of the things that I miss about being in the classroom is that when you go into the classroom,” Cross said. “There’s lots of noise … everybody’s talking you know, checking in. I miss that about not being in the classroom. [It’s like] when you walk into a party, you get a sense of the room. It’s like there is an effect in the room and it affects you. And I think that’s true about classrooms too and for some reason on Zoom meetings, it doesn’t work that way.” Along with the shortcomings of online classrooms, many clubs and organizations are also falling short of expectations during this virtual semester because of the limited opportunity for in-person interactions.  “I don’t think we’re handling it to the best of our abilities,” Corrao said. “It ends up being like, maybe five of us in person and like Kelly or something and like two people online … It’s a hassle because we want to make this as accepted as accessible to as many people as we can but at the same time nobody wants to be here and then like the other half of the clubs that I’m in don’t meet at all.” Destressors are vital to fighting burnout on a college campus. The lack of physical congregation only adds to the threat of students procrastinating, failing or giving up.  There is no one-size-fits-all solution to slow burn, but Pascoe offers the advice of creating boundaries between your life and your stressors — whether that be zoom classes, leadership positions, work or family — setting clearly defined hours of your work day, and simply acknowledging that stress lives in your body so that you may find ways to relieve it or ask for help.  “We all need an outlet for releasing stress like hobbies or exercise,” Pascoe said. “Call in your community, either to ease your burden, or to help you rethink and reform the structures that are leading to burnout.” Note: Samantha Walla and Sophia Sakellariou are Quadrangle writers.

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