Julia Maher ’23
To say that College of the Holy Cross students are involved on campus and in their communities would be an understatement. On top of the prestigious academics of the College, many students devote dozens of hours each week to countless organizations on campus. Some examples of these include service clubs, multicultural student organizations (MSOs), and identity-based organizations (IBOs). Although it is phenomenal that the student body is heavily engaged in serving the Holy Cross community and greater Worcester area, it becomes relatively impossible to tackle all of these commitments.
Especially for students who hold critical leadership positions in certain clubs, it can become overwhelming to balance all activities. Specifically, belonging to a club’s executive board, or e-board, can feel like taking on a full-time job. Many people do not realize how big the commitment is unless they become co-chair of a club.
This year, I am the Chief Opinions Editor for The Spire, the Arts Manager for Pride, and a member of the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) for the English Department. Although I am not a co-chair for any of these organizations, I am still amazed by how many responsibilities I have on the e-boards for The Spire and Pride. As a junior at the College, I am more involved in clubs and activities on campus than I ever have been.
Although some people may look at my list of commitments and think I am not highly involved, I certainly am, and each of these roles includes a lot of responsibility. In order for someone to truly understand the work and activity load of a student at Holy Cross, they must step into that student’s roles. This is basically impossible for any faculty or staff member to do, but they have a plethora of commitments as well. But just because it may seem like students have it much easier than employees of the College does not mean that is true. Our four classes each week alone add up to 32-40 hours per week of attending classes, completing assignments, studying for exams, and writing papers. And I’d imagine that many students put in even more hours than this standard. So, just from our classes, we are already working a full-time job. Now, with clubs, activities, sports, jobs, social events, and other commitments factored in, many students are working way more than a standard full-time job.
As one could imagine, working for that many hours per week is exhausting. Many students have absolutely no time to not do anything at all and just relax. This contributes to mental health and substance abuse issues. I would guess that many students use alcohol and other drugs to aid their relaxation. But this only leads to a vicious cycle of substance use and mental health issues, since alcohol, a depressant, has been proven to worsen depression and anxiety. Normalizing excessive drinking and our culture of alcohol abuse negatively affects our community in various ways.
What we really need is to truly, completely relax and get enough sleep each night. I normally try to have one day per week where I do not do any work and just relax, but it is almost impossible for me to shut off my mind and allow myself to rest. The competitive culture at Holy Cross contributes to this inability to relax because many students feel like they always need to get ahead of others. This also proves the negative effects that capitalism, hustle culture, and excessive productivity have on our wellbeing.
We can only do so much as humans and we need adequate sleep and relaxation to rejuvenate our bodies and minds. Let’s stop fooling ourselves that we are “fine” all the time; we cannot pour from an empty cup. Although it is great that we live out our mission of being students “for and with others” through our involvement in activities, we cannot forget that we must be advocates for ourselves first and foremost.