Growing up, it was always worse to disappoint my parents than it was to anger them. If they were angry with something I did, it was usually a mistake in the moment. But to hear, “I’m disappointed in you,” struck to my core. It meant that they had great expectations for me, but I had failed. I knew that disappointment would stay with them, and me, much longer than any punishment.
This has been a year of many expectations that weren’t realized. I am angry at a virus, but I had no expectations for it. But this week, I wasn’t angry when I learned about a spike in local student cases due to large gatherings that resulted in an urgently recommended quarantine, I was sad and disappointed.
I know it’s happening all over the country at universities. I also know many students are following the rules and doing what they can to keep our community safe. But clearly, not all of them. I don’t personally know students who participated in unsafe behavior, but I do know who I believe Spartans to be. And I have much higher expectations of Spartans.
So many people have worked so hard to make this semester work for everyone. University staff and faculty have worked overtime since the pandemic broke out to find ways to keep everyone safe, continue teaching and research and give students the best experience they could. We’ve pivoted when things changed. Most employees are exhausted but determined to do everything they can for a successful semester. I’ve seen the dedication of my coworkers and across campus. That’s who Spartans are — doing whatever it takes to give students the best semester possible.
With everything people have done, I deeply wanted to believe our community would be different. I’m certain families also sacrificed in many ways to ensure their students could be Spartans. I imagine there’s some disappointment on their part, too.
That said, I still have high expectations of Spartans moving forward. We may have suffered a setback, but that never keeps us down for long. We aren’t really “down” at all. We’re still doing incredible research on Parkinson’s and cancer. We’re studying the Amazon rainforest and getting ready for a virtual homecoming. And rankings released this week show MSU’s supply chain program as No.1 for the tenth year in a row, which everyone has come to expect now. My favorite tweet to that news was, “Death. Taxes. MSU #1 in supply chain.” It’s always great when Spartans don’t disappoint.
I know there are tons of students who aren’t disappointing in the least. They are doing the right things, facing incredible challenges and persevering. Like Ri'An Jackson, a senior majoring in journalism. She says, “We have all been so resilient and creative in trying to navigate this semester. Now that we’ve had time to adapt to a virtual environment, I feel optimistic about the opportunities we have to stay connected.” Read her Student view: Starting my senior year virtually to learn more about this inspiring young woman.
I was disappointed this week, but today is a new day. We have an opportunity now to be better than we were. We cannot change the past, but the future is ours to create. What we do now is the start of those tomorrows. We can make our community and the world a better place. #SpartansWill.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner