Student burnout was a big problem before the pandemic

It’s disappointing how long it took for the university to legitimately care for students’ well-being

COVID-19 brings struggles, but it’s nothing that we haven’t dealt with before. PHOTO: Gudrun Wai-Gunnarsson / The Peak

by Marco Ovies, Editor-in-Chief

I think it’s safe to say that all of us students are exhausted, and it’s only the beginning of the semester. I miss when I was just a bright-eyed, naïve first year at SFU, genuinely excited to attend lectures. That feeling has long since faded, being replaced by student burnout. This sensation is something I am quite familiar with, and having to live through a pandemic while dealing with it just makes everything worse. But student burnout existed long before COVID-19, and it’s a shame that SFU is just truly beginning to provide aid to students to address it. 

No number of reminders to go for a walk outside will help me deal with how tired I feel throughout the semester. It didn’t help when school was in-person and I was able to do more than walk around the block for a couple of minutes. It definitely doesn’t help now when assignments keep piling up on top of each other, and professors seem to be even less accommodating in this new learning environment. 

Additionally, this continuous feeling of student burnout can be attributed to having to pay more and more in  tuition. With tuition being raised nearly every semester I have been at SFU, I have had to take more shifts at my job. It even came to the point where I had to work two jobs to be able to afford school. I had little time for self care because I needed to work more to keep up with tuition increases. 

SFU has definitely made some moves to address student burnout recently. They’ve promoted programs like MySSP, used social media to remind students to look after themselves, and even approved a compassionate grading pilot. However, these actions should have come a lot sooner. 

Student burnout dramatically affects a student’s ability to not only absorb information, but to complete assignments and exams. When I am paying close to $3,500 per semester in order to learn, I cannot do these things properly when my own financial well-being is not taken into consideration. Now that students aren’t able to use their normal coping mechanisms (like hanging out with friends), the feeling of burnout is way more apparent. It shouldn’t be on the student to deal with these issues, and SFU should try to be more accountable and offer more support for students who are feeling burnt out. 

Student burnout has always existed, and if SFU cared at all about alleviating it, they would have made impactful changes at the institutional level to help me and other students. It’s ridiculous that it’s taken a global pandemic to even make the slightest of structural changes on the topic of student burnout. So let’s stop increasing tuition and investing money into new, consistently-delayed facilities, and instead invest in the well-being of students.