COVID memorial event reflects on loss and injustice in 2020

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Students and faculty gathered in Parent's Plaza on April 22 to share stories of COVID-19 and quarantine. Photo courtesy of @muhlenbergcollege on Instagram.

On Thursday, April 22, 2021, students and faculty alike gathered in Parents Plaza to commemorate those lost to COVID, as well as reflect on the community’s response to the pandemic. Multiple speakers, including President Kathleen Harring, and Dean of Students Allison Gulati were present. 

“It’s been highly disruptive,” said Tim Silvestri Ph.D., director of counseling services, referring to the COVID pandemic. He ended his speech with, “Hang in there everybody… Don’t let it end your aspirations.”

Multiple speakers talked about the consequences of the pandemic, focusing specifically on mental health. Peer Health Advocates at Muhlenberg (PHAM) member Martenia (TC) Morris ‘21 said, “Our peers struggled with loneliness… Zoom fatigue, anxiety.”

Despite all of this, Richeta Cubano ‘24, representative of the Black Student Association, commented, “We found ways to connect and love over a distance.”

The event was also live streamed on Instagram, another way to connect with those not on campus. 

Rebecca Brown, vice president for advancement and professor of dance, shared her heartbreaking story of how she lost her father-in-law to COVID. “Since then,” she said, “I felt such genuine support, care and concern from so many members of the Muhlenberg community.”

However, the event also touched on the injustice COVID revealed in 2020. Muslim Students Association representative Aya Kanan‘23 said, “We live desenstized in a world of injustice… We watched as Black, indigneous and Latina communities were disportionately struck by COVID-19 in ways other communities were not.” 

“2020 taught many of us to use our voice when we are not seen,” Cubano said. 

The COVID pandemic divulged the injustice faced in many communities, specifically when relating to healthcare.

Krystal Hall ‘20, representative of the Destiny Women of Color Association shared her own experiences of feeling distant from her family due to the pandemic. She said, “I remember how disconnected I felt, and still feel, to be honest.” 

“Your feelings are valid. You are valid,” the Body Positivity Club said. “We hear you and support you.” 

Cubano hopes for “2021 [to be] a year of fulfilled opportunity.”

Music and choral director Chris Jackson shared his challenges of performing virtually. He then shared a recorded piece from the Women’s Choir. 

Overall, the COVID memorial event reflected on the experiences of the past year, as well as the injustices brought to light in 2020. Gulati’s message echoes: “You are not alone. I stand here with you today.”

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