Moody Magazine is the official student publication of the Moody College of Communication. Created and published by Communication Council, the magazine launched in Fall 2018 and is purposed with providing Moody students with a semester magazine and Moody Monthly.
Weathering the Storm
A New Normal
A Tour of Moody
What a Pandemic in My 20’s Taught Me
The Semester’s Impact On BIPOC Students
Weathering the Storm Written by Emily Anaya
he soft crunch of fresh snow underfoot is a novel sound to be heard in Central Texas, and yet, there it was on the morning of February 15. Austin and UT campus, like much of North America, had been blanketed overnight in an unprecedented weather event known as Uri, or simply, the Winter Storm. The whole day, students swarmed campus to sled down frozen staircases, start snowball fights with strangers, and of course, capture the moment in thousands of photos. West Campus was a winter wonderland in the early morning, a picturesque scene of unexpected circumstance. It was beautiful and exciting, until it started getting out of hand. Despite ongoing COVID restrictions, parties broke out with massive clusters of students huddled together like penguins in the Arctic. Guadalupe was coated with ice and nearly deserted. The world seemed to have once again turned upside-down in the midst of an already upended time. We should have seen the next part coming, when Austin’s infrastructure and elected leaders would utterly fail us. You know how it went: nearly two weeks of classes cut from the calendars, icy roads preventing travel, and worst of all, yet another revelation of the vast disparity of access to resources in Austin.
The aftermath of the winter storm displayed the deep structural inequalities that pervade our city at every turn. It’s no secret that Austin is heavily gentrified… nor that there is a stark socio-economic split divided by I-35… nor that it is home to a prominent population of unhoused people the governor wants to sweep under the rug. Couple these with Austin’s utter unpreparedness for a snow storm and what did we get? Disaster. In an effort to mitigate the extreme pressure on Austin’s electricity as residents cranked up the heat, long blackouts were implemented in- you guessed it- lower income neighborhoods while the richest kept warm. As a result, 12 people in Travis county died during the storm, many of them trying desperately not to freeze. Our leadership failed them. UT students living off campus experienced the full range of effects from the blackouts. Living in West Campus only a block from UT main campus, my building had power throughout the storm and the following week, only losing internet access and water for a scattered few days. Students living in other areas, however, faced the worst of it. Yvette Maecara, a second-year student at Moody expressed that living in Riverside during the winter storm felt like being “disconnected from the world.” Without access to food, water, cell service, or internet, Maecara had to drive over slick roads to campus for these resources. When she arrived, she learned that students would be billed for food they received despite the city-wide state of emergency. Ultimately, like other students, Maecara had to relocate to West Campus for her own safety while students living there seemed to be enjoying the week as if it were a vacation. In the meantime, mutual aid groups stepped up to provide food, water, and warmth to Austinites in need. Kacey Vandervort, a senior at UT and Vice President of Horns for Safety, was among those who volunteered her time and energy to help. Throughout the week, this student advocacy group distributed “800 breakfast
tacos, over 6,000 cans of water, countless snacks, hand sanitizer, wipes, and other necessities” to students in West Campus, North Campus, and Riverside. While people like Vandervort prove that there’s still solidarity and selflessness among Austin residents, we must consider the vulnerability we face as a city when the quickest, most reliable form of assistance we can count on is the kindness of strangers rather than our government (and jet-setting senators). We must reflect on what that means for us moving forward, and who we trust to carry us through hard times now and in the future. On the Forty Acres, students across UT campus had varying experiences with university support. Some students like Isabel Bauhs, a resident of Scottish Rite Dormitory, never lost “electricity or water for more than an hour at a time” and when the boil water notice went into effect, were provided with water bottles.
as COVID had kept her from ever interacting with her RA in person. The isolation of the times left Hawkins feeling as though she “didn’t have a voice or anyone who was looking out for [her].” Both students expressed that although the university provided what it could, it was ultimately unprepared for the extreme weather event. Thankfully, warming stations and emergency housing were set up for students living in unsafe conditions due to the storm, and student publications such as The Daily Texan kept us up-to-date as to where resources were available. Many students reported staying with friends to share food and shelter until resources were restored. It was certainly a time for the University of Texas community to come together and fulfill each other’s needs wherever possible. As of this writing, UT Senate of College Councils is working on legislation to add pass/fail opportunities in addition to those offered due to COVID, citing that the vast majority of participants of their survey were affected by the winter storm. As we reach the end of a most unusual and stressful semester, students are desperate for this kind of support. The patterns found in the aftermath of Uri are not surprising. They merely reflect what we’ve known all along and have seen for the past year during the pandemic: that the same communities continue to be decimated by natural disasters without reliable access to resources and government assistance. UT students, for the most part, emerged from the storm intact, but we can’t pretend we live in a vacuum. Now more than ever, it’s vital that we center underprivileged communities as we continue to rebuild and entertain thoughts of normalcy on the horizon. If nothing else, we’ve learned by now that in an increasingly unpredictable world, some things don’t ever change until we make them.
Freshman Athena Hawkins, a resident of Kinsolving, mentioned the multi-layered difficulty of managing during a winter storm in the context of a pandemic,
A New Normal Written by Emma Bittner
onfined to the inches of Zoom screens and the walls of our rooms, we’ve fallen into a new normal. We’ve mastered getting up moments before class and logging into Zoom. We have been able to literally be in two places at once, taking classes from work or even from bed. While the past virtual year was not ideal, we’ve become comfortable with the routine. With vaccines being distributed and restrictions being lifted, life with pre-pandemic elements is on the horizon. While I miss seeing my friends and walking campus between classes, going back to “normal” is daunting. Outside of the occasional work shift and my roommates, I’ve rarely communicated with people in person, and going back to that leaves me feeling uneasy. There is going to be a huge learning curve as we transition back into in-person classes and life. While many classes are still hybrid for next semester, a large chunk are in person. There are so many questions about how future semesters will go. Will we continue to be socially distanced? What are mask regulations going to look like on campus? If we are fully vaccinated do we still have to wear masks, how is this going to be enforced? These questions worry me and many other students as we return to campus in the fall. Deep down I know it will be years before we fully return to life how it was before the pandemic, if we ever do. The thought of walking through West Campus to my classes dotted across campus seems like a distant memory. It’s been well over a year since I walked campus for that purpose, even venturing to Greg to get my vaccine was nostalgic. Returning to classes like normal, or as normal as it can be during a pandemic, is exciting but terrifying.
The first day butterflies have returned, and not for the fact that I see friends who have returned to Austin after summers away, but that I will return to full classrooms and walk down a crowded Speedway again. These are things that seemed so unattainable for the last year. I was afraid that when the pandemic started during my sophomore year, I too would graduate through Zoom two and a half years later. Finding comfort in the new normal is going to take time. We won’t just forget the past 15 months we’ve been confined to our apartments and the isolation we’ve been in. While I’m eager to ease back into life on campus and reclaim my college experience, it’s going to take time to be comfortable in shedding the restrictions we’ve lived under for so long. I’ve never been more excited to sweat walking to class in the hundred degree heat the first week of classes or find myself in the student section of DKR. Months of isolation and navigating a digital world have been challenging to say the least, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As uncomfortable and awkward as it may be as we transition back into inperson life, we are ready for the learning curve. I’m nervous in the best way possible, but am ready to finally return to the Forty Acres, vaccinated and ready to take on the last year I have at UT.
A Tour of
Moody Jesse H. Jones Communication Center Building A (CMA)
• Department of Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences • Department of Communication Studies • Department of Radio-TV-Film • Digital Media Lab • Technology Services • A/V Equipment Check-Out
Jesse H. Jones Communication Center Building B (CMB) • • • • •
Studio Space KLRU TV Station Behavioral Science Laboratory Texas Newswatch Studio MFA Post Production Suites
William Randolph Hearst Building (HSM)
• Texas Student Media - Cactus Yearbook - The Daily Texan - Texas Travesty - KVRX 91.7 FM - Texas Student TV • Moody Equipment Check-Out
Belo Center for New Media (BMC) • School of Journalism • Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations • Dean’s Office • KUT Public Media Studios • Student Leadership Suite
What A Pandemic in My 20’s Taught Me Written by Emily Pape
In March of 2020, most universities transitioned to online learning in order to keep students, faculty and families safe. Most students had no problem with the transition, while others struggled tremendously. Even though professors made accommodations for students who live in different time zones, the change and lack of connectivity took a toll on one’s mental health.
Classes over Zoom we’re weird at first and the overall feel of the class felt incomplete. Professors worked hard and tried their best to switch all their upcoming class plans to accommodate online school. Students have recognized this dedication and have thanked professors and faculty for doing what they can while under pressure and stress. As weeks online went by, students struggled to stay focused and active during class, which affected their academic performance. Finding weekly motivations helped me and my friends get through tough weeks that felt almost impossible. Overall goals can help restore people’s faith and have hope for the future. The idea that “one day things will be back to normal” kept people, including students, motivated to not slack off and maintain their grades and performance. The workforce will one day look like it used to, and office parties and coworker lunch breaks will happen again.
Households looked different all across the world. Bedrooms became offices, meeting rooms and patient waiting areas. Life behind the screen made having an active social life seem unachievable. Families and neighbors became closer and ever, and people were more willing to accept a lending hand. College students who moved back home with their families had to find a way to finish assignments and engage in class while other members of the household moved about. Some found this difficult, but managed to work around the situation and finish classwork successfully.
Self care is something that everyone should include within their routine. Taking the time to spend time on oneself, whether it’s relaxing, working out or making some form of art, is key to creating an identity. During the pandemic, people felt the need to start taking care of themselves and start new habits that improved their mental and physical health. Many became invested in their fitness and became health nuts, and others found new hobbies that they found peace and satisfaction in. People took advantage of the outdoors and scheduled their plans according to that.
t’s been over a year since the United States was hit by the COVID-19 virus. Student’s are about to complete two whole college semesters online. Not only have we advanced our knowledge about the virus, we’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot about ourselves. It’s easy to pick out the negatives about the world’s current situation, but it’s important for people to grow from this experience and appreciate the person they became during the pandemic.
The last thing we can say we’ve all learned from this pandemic is that we should all always keep a special stock of supplies so we don’t become the next social media meme and buy $50 worth of toilet paper. It’s important to be prepared!
The Semester’s Impact on BIPOC Students Written by Rocio Perez
his semester proved to be a challenge and it seemed the mental health of many students was put at stake, especially BIPOC students. Saying this academic year was rough, could be an understatement. As humans, our lives were put on hold with the pandemic. The milestones we had been looking for were suddenly taken away, without so much as an apology. But a year into the pandemic, and this has become the new normal. Compared to the fall semester, the spring semester has been full of tribulations and trials as we just tried to hold on until the end. The semester kicked off with the storming of the capital, a monumental event that showed the country how white people were treated by the police in relation to the treatment of people of color during the protests this summer. With the decision of the Eyes of Texas, the trial of Derek Chauvin, and the recent UT mental health scandal, BIPOC students have had to feel a lot of generational trauma all at once. The university prides itself on the idea of diversity and inclusion and serving its students, but this semester showed us how much of everything they choose to do is performative. In choosing to side with their current donors, the university has chosen to alienate their current students, who one day will become those powerful people with deep pockets. The snowstorm shined light on how underprivileged students, especially those living in areas such as Riverside, were not given the same opportunities as those living on or near campus. When classes were supposed to commence, many students were still struggling with water issues and lack of electricity, yet they were expected to show up to class as if nothing had happened. Pretending as if nothing has happened has been a relevant theme for the university in the past, but especially this semester. When the news broke that a UT student with mental health issues had been kicked out of the university for threatening the lives of his family and his own, the university’s
credibility and job of protecting their students were threatened once again. Students in need of mental health assistance and therapy are encouraged to go to the CMHC for help. In a normal year, without the pandemic’s self-isolation and the mental health issues it brought with it, getting an appointment at the CMHC would have been an easier task than what it is today. Today, appointments are not available for months, leaving students helpless and alone. When I tried reaching out to the CMHC and making an assessment appointment, there were no time slots open, until months in advance and then it was cut off. For someone trying to seek help for mental health issues, being shut down by the institution that promised to take care of its students felt very heartbreaking.
This semester has been hard, we know this. All of this, coupled with Zoom exhaustion and the four walls of one’s room, has created a snowball of problems for many students trying to just make it to the end of the semester. It is known that the place where someone sleeps should not be the same area where they do work. The mind needs a separation between relaxation time and work time. But being a student, especially a student who lacks funds, this luxury is not alwyas possible. Without this separation, it is harder for students to find their off switch. With the feeling that since they are home more than often, they have to always be using their time wisely and working and working and working, non-stop. One would think professors have made courses easier with more leniency, and some have, but others have made online classes purposefully harder. With the length of this semester, as well as being a year into online classes, many students are barely making it through with a lack of drive, not because they don’t want to, but because they are mentally and physically exhausted.
It is impossible for me to imagine why the university lacks the funding to support the CMHC. As one of the top schools in the state, with some of the best undergraduate programs in the nation, one of their number one priorities is that the mental well-being of their students is taken care of. Instead of the university spending thousands on improving the stadium or only paying attention to their current donors, the university needs to start putting their money where their mouth is. In the past couple of months, young adolescents have spiraled into mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, with trends being higher than usual. For BIPOC students, who for centuries have been dealing with mental health repercussions of generational trauma, the university holds the responsibility of providing these individuals with the right resources and funding, especially during a pandemic.
With the addition of in-person classes, next semester is a new beginning for many. The routine of walking to class and not having to be in front of a screen for more than 8 hours a day, all things that are welcomed back. As we slowly move back to normal life, we cannot forget about how the university treated its students during this time. We must hold others and ourselves accountable to leave this university a better place for future generations. It is important for students to always remember that it is always okay to ask for help and that a letter grade or one’s GPA does not define who they are or who they will be.
The mental well-being of students should be one of the most important things for universities across the nation. In a country where we live to work, students are being put on hamster wheels and expected to keep going at their full potential until it’s too late. But students cannot do this, no one can do this.
Spring 2021 Magazine Committee Editor-in-Chief Barrett Senn Staff Emily Anaya Grace Barnes Emma Bittner Lucero Lopez Emily Pape Rocio Perez Ciara Ryan Sierra Wiggers Kellie Woodin Sloan Wyatt