Staff Editorial: Purpose in the Time of Coronavirus

Currently, more than half of the United States population is under orders to stay at home, with exceptions for workers in essential industries and only the most necessary of outings. Hospitals and emergency response services are already being stretched thin, and according to the Center for Disease Control and Preventions’s estimates, the worst is yet to come

Fordham is among thousands of universities nationwide that have transitioned to online classes in the past few weeks. The dorms have been vacated with very limited exceptions for almost two weeks now, leaving the vast majority of students and staff to try to make sense of the situation from the confines of their separate homes.

Even with the best and brightest the internet has to offer in the way of virtual communication technologies, it’s hard not to feel isolated, and playing the waiting game comes with a profound sense of powerlessness. When faced with a crisis, we have always been told to act, and yet in the face of this one, public health and safety demand that we lie low. Social media has been abuzz with encouraging messages of positivity and solidarity, but what we really need right now is to feel we have a purpose. We’re looking for a chance to address the problem rather than simply wait it out. 

This is an opportunity to put into practice the values of service that are fundamental to our Jesuit education.

Thankfully, the coronavirus can’t stop charity and goodwill, and it’s still possible to stay involved and make a difference — in some cases without ever leaving your bedroom. You can donate to food banks, soup kitchens and shelters, which need your help now more than ever with resources dwindling

Ordering takeout or delivery from local restaurants that are likely struggling financially or buying gift cards to use in the future is a great way to help your hometown institutions stay afloat. Most of all, you can advocate for transparency and increased aid from our lawmakers and try to make this trouble a little easier for all of us. 

If you’re looking to give back to the community around Fordham Lincoln Center, Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries in Hell’s Kitchen continues to work to provide toiletry supplies and food to New Yorkers in need, while The Xavier Mission in the Flatiron District continues to run a soup kitchen and a food pantry. Additionally, if you’re in a position to aid students in the Fordham community who are struggling due to the upsets caused by the coronavirus, a university-sponsored Student Emergency Fund has been opened on GiveCampus — your contribution will be greatly appreciated, as well as whatever donations you can solicit. 

Just as there are ways for individual students to be more involved, the university should also be doing everything in its power to support its students and the wider New York community during this pandemic. As students, we appreciate the effort that the Fordham administration has put into communication and updates throughout the month, and look forward to how they continue to develop the university’s response to this crisis and take more direct action.  Fordham’s decision to donate personal protection equipment to New York state medical workers was an excellent start, and as the situation develops, we ask that they consider opening dorm rooms to provide hospital beds for overflowing hospitals as other colleges have begun to do. 

Hang in there, and know that there’s plenty you — and Fordham — can do to help. This is an opportunity to put into practice the values of service that are fundamental to our Jesuit education. Even though it’s in our best interest to remain far apart, if we do our part to take care of each other now, we can forge bonds of solidarity that will serve us well when it comes time to leave our quarantine and build a better world together.