Letter from U of M president Michael Benarroch

I remain incredibly proud of the resilience of our students. Thank you for diligently continuing with your studies as we work to support the best possible student experience in a remote setting. You should all be tremendously proud of yourselves and your continued accomplishments.

For almost a year, you have been learning remotely because your health, safety and well-being guide all our policy decisions. That is why the University of Manitoba has decided that the summer term of 2021 will also be delivered, primarily, remotely. This is the right decision for our community right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy one.

As we approach Bell Let’s Talk Day on Jan. 28, I am thinking of all of you and of how dramatically your university experience has changed. From my own university experiences, and as a father of two recent university graduates, I empathize with the vulnerability and struggle that often accompanies academic life. And when COVID-19 entered the equation, all our usual stresses were amplified.

If you see someone in distress, or if you feel — even to the slightest degree — that you want to speak to someone, reach out today. Please. Asking for help is one of the strongest things we can do, and asking others if they need help can be one of the most meaningful acts of compassion. Our Student Counselling Centre is there to help, and U of M’s Success Through Wellness program offers an array of resources that continue to expand. This year, for instance, the Student Counselling Centre hired three new counsellors and one intake and triage specialist.

In April of 2020, one of our faculty members, Roberta Woodgate, a Canada Research Chair in Child and Family Engagement in Health Research and Healthcare, said something in a UM Today story that stuck with me. She said, “Many people assume anxiety is not a real thing […] But it is very real, and it’s not something you ‘just get over with.’”

During this time, such anxiety may stem from a difficult financial situation. To help, the U of M will offer an additional intake for student bursaries this winter term. Thanks to this support and the generosity of U of M alumni and donors, an additional $4 million in bursary support will be made available to provide immediate financial assistance to over 5,000 U of M students. Please apply if it will help you.

I’m proud of how we are adapting as a community. I’m proud of how resilient U of M students have proven themselves to be. I hope you are proud of yourselves.

Let us be mindful of each other and encourage each other to seek out ways to maintain positive mental health no matter where you are currently studying.

Let’s stay connected. Let’s talk.

Join the conversation:

#BellLetsTalk

#umanitoba

#umstudent

Michael Benarroch,

U of M president and vice-chancellor