We can study here or there. We can study anywhere.

Editorial Board

The spring trimester of the 2019-2020 academic year was no doubt the
weirdest period of scholastic life for most students at BB&N. We went from
scrambling around campus trying to finish the T2 grading period on a high
note to… an average of maybe three classes a day, which we could attend from
anywhere in our homes, in whatever state of comfort we chose, with little fear
of grades dropping. Suddenly, most of our busy schedules were completely
open. With all this time, obviously, came some loss in the material we learned—
and the school was right to direct this change. We were all dealing with a new
way of life. Who could have managed the same rigor two weeks after a global
pandemic had been declared?

As we approach the new school year, however, things are different. We have
now been living with COVID for six months, and we’ve adapted to situations
we couldn’t have dreamed of occurring. What we thought would last only a
few weeks is our new reality, and just as we learned to live our summer lives
as close to normal as possible, we must now do the same for our school lives
as well.

Either independently or with a push from our parents, we chose BB&N,
and with that choice has come responsibilities as well as privileges. The
prioritization of academic life is spelled out across the school, in our motto, and
in our mission statement, which emphasizes promoting scholarship in curious
and motivated students. That the school upholds its reputation and expects a
lot from its students should come as no surprise. While we acknowledge the
need to mind students’ mental health, especially considering that, according
to The Atlantic, suicide rates for those aged 10-24 rose 56% over the past
13 years, we believe there is a difference between a school supporting its students and a school adjusting its rigor preemptively across the board, for
every student.

Over the past five years, colleges across the country have been criticized for
coddling their students. In The Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, Heather
Mac Donald highlights how students on many campuses demand an abundance
of college resources to assuage the feelings of pressure, anxiety, or stress the
students encounter. Mac Donald writes she is surprised to find “being a Yale
student [is] a massive burden” and that a student prefers the university’s Good
Life Center coffee shop to its library because “going through Yale, it’s easier
not to think deeply.” Although The Vanguard does not agree with many of
Mac Donald’s arguments in this and other writings, we do agree with her point
here that students are extremely lucky to be at schools such as Yale and that
having access to such excellent educational opportunities, difficult work and
related stress included, is a privilege.

The same can be said about private schools such as ours. We are so lucky to
have the opportunity to attend this school, and we need to practice perseverance
and persistence as we return instead of expecting the administration to
alter the curriculum as broadly as they did in the spring. The mission of the
school has not changed because of the coronavirus, and neither should our
expectations of the academic experience.

Right now, in the absence of a vaccine, cure, or clear understanding of when
the threat of COVID will diminish, the world needs to return to as close to
normal as possible while still staying safe. We will figure out together what that
looks like, but as we do, let’s remember we signed up for the BB&N experience,
and it comes with a lot of work and toughness. So let’s get to it.