Monday, November 30, 2020

Students cope with stress from election

By Olivia Bousquet

Imagine walking down Rugar Street on a crisp fall day with leaves clinging to the trees. Upon passing by the Angel College Center, a crew of people are boarding up the glass doors with plywood.

There is no time to worry about the odd addition. There is homework, tests and essays waiting to be completed in Moodle.

What if you saw downtown Plattsburgh huddling behind boarded up windows and doors? How would you feel receiving emails from President Enyedi asking students to bulk up on supplies and food for the upcoming week?

This is a reality for students at George Washington University in Washington D.C. According to The Washington Post, an email was sent prior to election day to on-campus students suggesting to stock up for “at least one week of food, supplies and medicine,” which included aspirin, toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning supplies. Students are being told to watch out for their safety but also need to continue completing their assignments.

The unknown of the election results, before Joe Biden became the President-Elect, had scared stores into locking up and boarding up. Stores in Portland, Seattle, New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago had physically prepared the exterior of the buildings for potential riots, regardless of the presidential winner.

Large and small companies, like Tiffany, Saks Fifth Avenue, CVS and Target, have all been cautious with the upcoming weeks. The Insurance Information Institute estimated that retailers have lost $1 billion in insured losses from property damages and theft. Many companies were heavily affected over the summer during the George Floyd protesting, which has led to the extra precaution for the election.

“There’s no need to [board up stores]. We’ve been in other elections that were important, and we haven’t seen a riot,” SUNY Plattsburgh sophomore Justin Mayo said. “I don’t think people are going to go out and bash windows. I feel like that was more with the Black Lives Matter movement because there’s people losing their lives and still there is no change.”

Mayo doesn’t see many people being happy with either presidential candidate because he said many supporters are extremists. The moderate right and moderate left are more likely to accept Biden as a president because he’s more centered on values, speculated Mayo. Many marginalized groups are afraid of losing rights if President Trump were to have another four years in office. The election results have more weight after the Supreme Court was stacked in favor of conservatives after Amy Coney Barrett was appointed.

Luckily, after Biden won the Presidential election, a shift in morality should be seen with his administration. Marginalized groups like women, minorities and the LGBTQ community, were able to breathe a sigh of relief Nov. 7 when Pennsylvania turned blue. But will the Trump administration allow for a peaceful transition of power to Biden’s administration? Will Biden uphold his promises to helping the environment, low-income citizens and further supporting marginalized groups?

“I tend to forget male privilege, how stressful this election is for women to vote for two men who have sexual allegations against them. It’s kind of like voting for the enemy,” Mayo said about the importance of the election results.

SUNY Plattsburgh students were facing more anxiety than normal with the unknown results of the election, which added to the stress of all their homework. As the country waited three days after election day for deciding states like Nevada, Pennsylvania and Georgia to turn blue at the last minute for Biden to reach 270 electoral votes, students awaited with anticipation. Women are worried about their rights, people of color are worried about their rights and the LGBTQ+ community are worried about their rights – notice the scary reality for minority groups within the U.S.

“The simple fact that none of these candidates are good, but one is better than the other, at least for me. As a woman of color, I know that from what I’ve seen over the past four years Trump has done a lot of things that are not going to help me,” SUNY Plattsburgh senior Ciarah Richmond said. “I stopped watching the news for three hours today and went to do community service instead of refreshing my news app every five minutes.”

Generation Z has been on social media platforms trying to make light of the tense political climate. Some TikTok users claim that after the election, another civil war will break out. A TikTok video by @jordanpretzel went viral with over 2.1 million views, which showed him in front of the camera with a text saying “wait, so do I still have to do my homework if we have a civil war or no?” Another viral 5 -million-view TikTok by @classicsparkle was captioned, “are we color coordinated by state or political party?” that joked about the attire people would wear if a war breaks out.

“A lot of people watched ‘The Simpsons’ — especially Gen Z. So they predicted a war in January 2021, and a lot of people think everything in The Simpsons comes true,” Richmond said laughing. “Joking is a form of coping and not a lot of people have really healthy coping mechanisms. But if it works for them, then who are we to tell them they should change their coping for mechanisms?”

The Anxiety and Depression Association of American recommends several options for healthy coping strategies, such as eating well-balanced meals, talking to someone, maintaining a positive attitude and welcoming humor. Students should be taking care of their mental health during a time with the stresses of school, COVID-19 and the election. Finding the positives in each day can help students relax during a stressful situation.

“I’ve been doing yoga and I have been coloring and using certain coping skills that I’ve learned. The election has been affecting my mental health because it’s making me anxious, not because I’m worried about who’s going to win,” SUNY Plattsburgh junior Kaitlyn Bjelko said. “I’m worried about what’s going to happen when we know who wins with other people acting out on things that we’ve seen in the past.”

Students should stay safe, regardless of Biden’s victory as the new president elect. Clinton County was red for the presidential election, so many Trump supporters will be upset about the defeat. Celebrating Biden’s victory is understandable, however, maintaining social distancing is crucial to keep everyone safe. SUNY Plattsburgh students can enjoy Biden’s win by enjoying being outside in the oddly warm November weather.

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