At the risk of repeating what literally everyone has been saying for months, to the point that you want to punch someone any time they say it, 2020 sure has been a weird year. If there’s one thing you can say about the 5C administrations’ response to COVID-19, it’s that they listen to and care about what students have to say.The newest decision the 5Cs have made will certainly have students jumping for joy.
We all know Breakout Rooms, the learning tool professors have to put two or more students in a separate Zoom room so that they can either say nothing with their cameras off or feel incredibly uncomfortable for five minutes. Building on the success of Breakout Rooms, Zoom has introduced Breakdown Rooms, and all of the 5C colleges have bought licenses to use the new software.
Here’s how it works. Unlike Breakout Rooms professors do not send the entire class into Breakdown Rooms all at one time. Instead, the professor can identify a student that is experiencing a mental breakdown from either the immeasurable hardships that the COVID-19 crisis has put on students or the immense feeling of isolation that we are all feeling right now. In order to let them sort out their emotions and so they can stop interrupting the class with their incessant and shrill crying, the professor puts them into a Breakdown Room. The distressed student is the only occupant of the room and Zoom plays a specially curated playlist that has been proven to literally cure any mental distress or for that matter mental illness more generally. The playlist includes the entire soundtrack to the Curious George movie, Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO, and Love Sosa by Chief Keef (but only the intro). Alternatively, students can choose to view some of the newest and silliest Tik Tok that all the kids love right now. These include terrifying videos of a heavily filtered man saying that “there’s no such thing as two pretty best friends,” videos of incredibly attractive people dancing (which absolutely will not cause any body image issues), or videos of a dog named Bunny with the ability to communicate with humans who will inevitably take over the world some day.
It should be noted that students will still be expected to know all of the material covered in class while they are suffering in the Breakdown Room because it will be on the next exam.
Some have voiced concerns about the new Breakdown Rooms. We interviewed Pomona sophomore Naomi Walker who said that, “You guys know that one of the features of the Breakdown Rooms is that the school administrators have the ability to watch everyone who is in a Breakdown Room. In fact, they can have notifications sent to their phone telling them to watch the feed.”
When asked about the concerns, Pomona President Gabby Starr assured students that “the only reason that I will be watching every single student that enters a Breakdown Room is to make sure that we can offer them the support and resources they need. I absolutely do not get any sexual gratification out of watching students weep.” She later added that she “hopes students keep their microphones on when in the Breakdown Rooms,” so that she can get the “total experience.”
All in all, it looks like Breakdown Rooms are going to be a wonderful addition to the online 5C experience. We look forward to hearing all of the stories our readers have about how they reached their last straw in a Breakdown Room.