We have higher expectations for 2021

This year has presented a seemingly endless series of tragedies; mass unemployment, the deaths of over 280,000 Americans caused by the coronavirus and its mismanagement at the federal level, the devastating series of wildfires at the beginning of the year, and the shocking police violence witnessed over the summer. 

However, as 2020 comes to a close, it looks like there will be several opportunities to finally stop the bleeding. While Joe Biden isn’t a larger-than-life savior and things won’t magically get better on Jan. 1, 2021, the coming months will hopefully usher in a few substantial changes. 

We at Grand Valley State University are most likely to be directly impacted by his call for Congress to act on student loan forgiveness and his pandemic plan. The average Michigan college student owes over $30,000 dollars in student loan debts, so the prospect of Biden (or Congress, at Biden’s request) forgiving a third of that average is agreeable, if not totally satisfying. 

President-Elect Biden’s pandemic plan is also a sign of hope. A Biden presidency will be a big change of pace from Trump’s hands-off approach to the pandemic, with policies that will encourage governors to impose public safety mandates like mask-wearing, provide sick leave and prioritize the safety of healthcare workers. These actions increase the likelihood that GVSU will be able to safely return to in-person classes in the near future. 

On top of that, if Congress manages to pass a new stimulus bill, the remainder of the pandemic has a chance of being tolerable for millions of Americans who have been pushed to furlough or lost their jobs over the past nine months. 

Students at GVSU and around the country are dreading to dive into a decimated job market, so considering policies that not only allow young employees to get back to work safely and quickly but provide them with more than temporary jobs is essential. 

The Biden presidency and cabinet will also provide young people with an aura of inspiration. Not only is Vice President-elect Kamala Harris making history as the first woman and person of color to hold the position, but Biden’s woman-led communications team proves the White House can look as diverse as the country it serves.

There are real, practical reasons to look forward to the future; instead of wondering when we’ll get a COVID vaccine, we’re thinking about who to vaccinate first; instead of wondering if the government will address the pandemic, we’re able to ponder the new administration’s many proposed solutions; instead of wondering how to restore our democracy, we’re left to think about how we can restore trust in it.