Blue Christmas: How to provide support for those affected by the holidays


Patrick Casey

Blue Christmas: How to provide support for those affected by the holidays

By Editorial Board

The holidays are here. Christmas lights have sprung up on every street and State Street is flooded with shoppers.

While some people may see this as “the most wonderful time of the year,” not everyone feels this way. For many, the holidays are an especially painful time, and it’s important we recognize and offer support to those affected in the coming weeks.

For people who have lost loved ones, the holidays can serve as a painful reminder of someone who is not with you anymore. Others may suffer from family problems that make going home especially different.

International students may not have any choice but to stay in the dorms for the holidays. For people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression heightened by the changing seasons, the sudden cold temperatures and decreased sun exposure can make the winter months extremely difficult. Whatever the reason may be, it’s important we support those going through a hard time this holiday season.

More can be done by the college to support students during the holidays. Counseling services should send a notice reminding students of available resources and how to make an appointment if needed.

During the holiday break when classes are over, the University Center dining hall does not serve meals, leaving students in dorms to fend for themselves -— even for students who come back early to take  J-term classes. For Columbia students, the meal plan is not active from Dec. 16 until Jan. 19, and the cafe will run on reduced hours during that time, according to an email sent from the University Center to its residents.

That means students staying in the dorms over the holiday break have to rely on spending their own money to feed themselves. Because we’re college students, we can’t afford to get takeout for every meal or spend personal money in the cafe. The college should make food more accessible for students who don’t go home during the break so they aren’t relying on microwaved meals.

The University Center also houses students from DePaul, Roosevelt and Robert Morris Universities. These colleges could partner to create an event during the holidays so students in the city have a place to go and interact with each other rather than feel alone. The UC could even create a group to do charity work, which is completely free and a rewarding way to stay busy during those long winter weeks.

If you know someone going through a difficult time, simply being there for them can go a long way. Don’t shove holiday music, movies or decorations on them, and understand when they may not want to partake in parties or markets. Offer to host a get together with friends before classes end to include those not celebrating on the day.

Avoid talking about how wonderful the holidays are with your family and all the wonderful gifts you’ve received over the years. Do whatever you can to support them, and don’t assume everyone is cheerful and merry during this time.