In my last blog, written as we were celebrating graduation and Covid numbers were falling, I challenged readers to think about lessons from the pandemic and plan for a new and improved post-pandemic world. In retrospect, that optimism was clearly a little premature. As the Delta variant swept through the country, it not only changed the timeline on any return to “normalcy,” it changed expectations that there would be a post-Covid world. The challenge became learning to live and thrive in a world with Covid. As classes are in full swing, and we’ve already passed the halfway mark for the semester, Duke students, staff and faculty have readily embraced the measures that allow us to teach and learn in person: masks, vaccinations and testing. Midterms are over, basketball is coming back to Cameron in a way that keeps everyone safe and crazy, and we are seeing more in person events that bring people together.
One event that brought together large numbers of people this month was the Women’s March on October 2. Organized in hundreds of cities across the country, advocates of reproductive rights and reproductive justice came together to protest the growing restrictions on abortion rights highlighted by the Texas law deputizing citizens to sue anyone seeking or aiding someone to seek or obtain an abortion. While that law has rightfully achieved center stage in national media, it is just one of many laws that threaten access to abortion coverage in the US. With the Supreme Court set to hear arguments on a Mississippi case that could overturn the almost 50 years of precedent set by Roe vs Wade, abortion rights face very real peril in the US, with almost twenty states set to immediately outlaw abortion if Roe is overturned and many more with conservative legislatures. This may seem overwhelming, but it should also spur people into action. What can you do? Learn more about the issues. Guttmacher and Planned Parenthood are excellent sources of information on current legislation and ways to get involved. Call or write postcards to your elected officials—these are important at both a state and national level. Join the protests, and let your voice be heard.
Finally, take a deep breath as the days get shorter, the weather gets a little cooler and the stress of upcoming finals approaches. Take a walk in the gardens, grab a coffee with a friend on the walkway, pet some puppies at the wellness center or FaceTime with your family. If you need more support, please ask advantage of these resources. Take care of yourselves and each other.