LaGuardia Community College has a club for just about every interest and skill. Photography, chess, creative writing, women in stem, tabletop board games, psychology, cooking, anime, economics, are all clubs organized by students for students. Despite the presence of these clubs at LaGuardia, each offering leadership and community-building opportunities, a growing number of LaGuardia students […]
Michelle Garcia, 19, enjoyed her commute to school. It was a leisurely time which she used to listen to music and scroll through social media to keep her “updated.”
But now the subway commute has become fraught with anxiety.
“I’m constantly watching my back. Also, I get scared when taking the bus or train as well cause sometimes,” said Garcia, who is a Health Science major at LaGuardia Community College.
This dark turn of events can be traced back to recent spike in violence in New York, particularly the attacks on commuters in the subway.
Garcia said she is “paranoid.” She constantly looks up from her phone, scans her surroundings and gives her full attention to anyone that comes near her when she’s taking public transportation.
She is more vigilant, but it has sucked the joy out of riding the subway.
According to data released by the New York Police Department, as of January 2022 the number of shootings in New York City has been increasing to about 36.5 percent and it’s impacting students with learning and even their attendance at school, it’s also causing fear, anxiety, and other mental health issues in students when they need to leave their homes in order to get to school on a daily basis.
Keeping up with mass shootings numbers has become difficult, as incidents are added daily. But what is becoming increasingly clear to students and mental health professionals is that—there is a clear toll on the emotional well-being of students.
Jessica Bergman, 20, who is an English major student, said she has noticed classes are empty every time there is a mass shooting here in NYC.“The student’s simply do not come to school.” She said she noticed there are less than half the students after a major event.
“Students are scared to simply take a train all because they see how many people, dying or getting injured from gun violence,” Bergman added.
Bergman always is also struggling to deal with the constant barrage of bad news. She sought help from the Wellness Center at LaGuardia for confidential counseling.
She said young people often choose online classes because of the mood of fear and despair in the city. “My cousin who’s in high school does online classes. She’s scared to take the train, we try with her, but her anxiety is just really bad,” she said.
“Even young kids, kids little as ten or younger are victims to mass shootings here in America. That can be your younger brother or sister, how would that make you feel to know they are no longer coming home?” Bergamen.
All of this has discouraged her too Bergman and left her worried about the choices she is making.
The Wellness Center at the College says it provides students, who deal with anxiety and even depression, an outlet to talk to someone other than a parent or guardian.
“We want to make students feel safe. It helps you learn how to deal with anxiety or any concerns,” said Frank LaTerra-Bellino, an advisor at the center.
He said the gun violence in the city has exacerbated the anxiety among students.
“Centers like this can be great because it will help the students work at getting better when it comes to balancing their schoolwork and at the same time any anxieties or fears they may have,” Bellino added.
Junior, 19, who is in the Libreal Arts major at LaGuardia, stated that he even feels safer and more protected when he’s with someone whether it’s a friend or a family member, he doesn’t like being alone because he knows if something does happen to him there won’t be
“I get that fear and anxiety sometimes like when I’m alone. But if I’m with someone I guess I don’t really think about it,” Junior added.
But when alone, he is trapped in paralyzing anxiety, wondering if there will be anyone to help him or go as far as to protect him.