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Civics of Sacrifice with Drew Zaitsoff

July 13, 2020

Drew Zaitsoff wearing a maskMy e-mail is full of plans for Purdue’s reopening for the fall semester, and a lot of the messaging is optimistic about the new procedures and how, even if there are some differences, there will be important similarities to how things were before COVID-19.  We’ll be able to get food at the dining halls, exercise at the CoRec, and actually talk to other people in person instead of through a screen.  That said, even the best-case scenario is still going to have substantial differences: dining halls will be takeout-only, the CoRec will be using reservations, and face masks are going to be mandatory most places on campus.  None of these changes will be impossible to deal with, but following them for weeks on end may be stressful.

You may miss having a long dinner in the dining halls.

You may realize that it’s hard keeping ten feet apart while using exercise machines.

You may struggle with wearing a mask while on campus. 

You may just plain want things to be normal.

You may feel the pull to ignore reality, and to act as if there isn’t a pandemic on.

But there is.

A lot of the new COVID-19 cases, and the resulting fatalities, came when states reopened and people started acting like the pandemic was over. 

What’s being asked of students, staff, and faculty is a sacrifice.  We’re giving up a lot of the conveniences of “normal,” in order to reduce the chance of an outbreak in the fall.  The Protect Purdue Pledge requires that students remember our civic responsibilities to each other.  An outbreak on campus will result in illness or death among our peers, and could spread to our families.  And if the university is closed again, there is a question of if and when we can safely re-unite with our friends, particularly for those who live in other countries.

Thinking civically means considering how our choices impact the other people in our community, and making choices based in our values.  Do you value your health, and the health of others?  An on-campus college experience that isn’t interrupted halfway through?  Stability, even if things aren’t normal?  Following these values is going to take a difficult sacrifice, and the longer you’re asked to make a sacrifice, the harder it will be to remember the values that made the sacrifice worthwhile in the first place.  Write your values down, and keep them with you.  This isn’t going to be an easy semester to get through, but it will be easier if we remember why we're sacrificing.


Drew Zaitsoff, Purdue CAPS Staff Therapist