by Maggie Modjeski, columnist
I would like to take the opportunity to welcome the students from St. Mary’s University, Winona State University and Minnesota State College Southeast back to our community.
We want you here and you are an important part of our community, though lately it probably doesn’t seem that way as there has been a lot of finger pointing and blame going on, directly at our community guests.
It has been awhile since I sat down to write a column, trying to find a topic outside of “The COVID” isn’t easy since it has changed our daily lives. There is more to COVID than the physical illness itself. There has been the emotional toll it has taken on friendships and acquaintances and judgment that is so freely cast around. We can put “Be Kind” signs in our yard but it’s just a sign unless we truly try to “Be Kind,” something I think as a community we have forgotten with the university students whose worlds have changed as well.
I came to Winona in the early ‘90s to attend Winona State. I didn’t have a lot of interaction with people who weren’t a part of the university community, I didn’t feel unwelcome but didn’t feel like people were opening their arms either.
I don’t think that a divide is uncommon in a college town but over time in Winona this has changed. With the many partnerships businesses have with the universities, community involvement at athletic events, both the universities and we “townies” have come together in many ways.
However, have we “townies” forgotten how much we need this population? Businesses need the revenue and the employees that come with our university students, though now in my middle-aged years I could probably do without the parties at 4 a.m. or young men watering my lawn.
I work in a local long-term care facility and we could not survive without our staff who are in the 20-29-year-old age bracket.
The numbers don’t lie, I realize that, cases have increased, but it isn’t unique to Winona. My son is in another state quarantined in his dorm room due to exposure. I’m more worried that he and his roommate will kill each other than the actual illness.
I wasn’t thrilled when I found out, he put himself at risk, he should know better, but shouldn’t I as I’m shopping at my favorite retail store for things that aren’t essential or when I stand too close to a friend of mine for a photo even though we are outside and less than 10 people?
If anything being quarantined has taught my son how boring life can be, and he may think about that as he makes future choices, and I’m going to assume many other students will as well, as no one wants to be sent home.
We are in this together as a community, whether we are 20, 40, 60 or 80. Wear your mask, wash your hands, be safe, but most of all be kind to each other.