How do Chatham student leaders cope with burnout?


Ryan Tahbaz ‘22 works at the rollerskating event held by CAB earlier this academic year. Photo Credit: Michaela DeLauter

Jorie Meil

Chatham University has an extensive list of student-run organizations. Club executives dedicate lots of energy to planning events for their organizations and the Chatham community at large –  but often not without forgoing personal and academic time.

Balancing course work, club obligations and mental health has proven to be a challenge for many student leaders, and the overwhelming combination of the three can lead to burnout.

As finals approach, many student leaders said they feel as if there is never enough time to get everything done. Finding time for self-care and relaxation often gets put on the backburner, too.

According to Ryan Tahbaz ‘22, executive president of Chatham Student Government (CSG) and member of Chatham Activities Board (CAB), it is important to set boundaries and stay organized.

“Every day, I have a point where I’m like, at this hour, I’m done. I’m not touching my laptop. I’m not doing anything that’s to do with school or work or anything like that. So, I always reserve some time every day for me to relax, de-stress and take my mind off everything. Additionally, something I’ve started doing is scheduling in on my calendar fun activities for me to do,” Tahbaz said.

Shadyside campus has notoriously low student engagement and attendance at events and club meetings, which was only intensified by the virtual environment created by the pandemic.

“On the student engagement side of things, I would say that, it felt especially hopeless, like over the past year or so because of COVID,” said Morgan “Moe” Williams ‘22, co-president of Chatham Student Power and assistant coordinator of student engagement.

“It’s very difficult to get people to go to things and care about things,” said Leo Liotta ‘23, executive vice president of student government, artistic director of the drama club and president of the feminist coalition.   

Without ample participation from the student body, many student leaders sometimes feel defeated in their efforts.

“That’s one of the things that is very tiring. With student government, our numbers are at capacity. We always need more people in student government. We quite literally are never full, which makes it difficult a lot of the time to like do the work that we’re trying to do,” Liotta said.

Even after the return to in-person campus life and events, there is a lack of diversity in those attending.

“I think throughout my years here, I’ve noticed really low student engagement in a lot of activities,” Tahbaz said. “But now that like I’ve been working on CAB, this year I have paid more attention, and I tend to see the same people showing up to events.”

Regardless of the challenges, student leaders love what they do and continue because they have a passion, so much so that they sometimes feel as if there was more they could be doing.

“Honestly, as much work as it is and as exhausting as it often gets, I do really love the work that I do for all of the student organizations that I’m involved in,” Liotta said.

So what is the solution to burnout? Student leaders said that more students getting involved with Chatham these organizations and events would help spread out the work. 

“It’s fun and a great way to make friends. Plus, if you become involved with clubs, in terms of membership and helping with events, it is a really good thing to put on a resume,” Liotta said. “The people running the clubs are good people to meet and good people to know. I have so much love for all of our student leaders, and a lot of them are very passionate and are great advocates.”

To find out more about events and organizations on campus, check out the “Happenings” page on My.Chatham, the student organization page on the CSG website, the Screaming Squirrel newsletter and the student engagement Instagram page.