By Madeline Alvarez, Editor-In-Chief
Last year, right as we were heading into lockdown because of COVID-19, Newman gave us an extra week of Spring Break. This year we had no Spring Break, and we got one measly day off as a “break” for the entire semester.
Granted, Newman gave us an extra week of Winter Break. But Spring Break is in the middle of the semester for a reason: That’s the point when students (and I’m assuming faculty, too) need to step away from classes and breathe for a while without assignments looming over their heads so they can get back to them with renewed energy once the break is over.
Having a break before you need one is like eating more at breakfast because you’re going to skip lunch and eat dinner: It will help a little by keeping you fuller longer, but you’ll also probably want dinner earlier.
Spring Break is also the time most students use to work ahead on finals projects. We couldn’t have worked on homework or projects over Winter Break because we didn’t have syllabi yet.
I understand that switching Spring Break out for an extra week of Winter Break was what Newman chose to do so that people wouldn’t travel and bring COVID back to campus in the middle of the semester. But I didn’t want a Spring Break so I could go to Cancun and hang out with strangers at wild parties. I just wanted to be able to sleep in for a few days in a row and to breathe without having to worry about having two assignments due by midnight and three more the next day.
Newman could have at least given us a “dead week” where we still had to go to class but no homework was assigned. Or the university could have spread one-day breaks throughout the semester so that students could get the chance to rest but not really have the temptation to travel far.
Aside from having no breaks except for Good Friday, the amount of work that professors have given students this semester matches the amount they would have given us in regular, pre-COVID years. Sometimes the amount of work even exceeds the regular amount of homework we would have had to do.
Dealing with COVID is already hard enough. Add 16 weeks straight through with only one day off on top of it, and disaster is inevitable.
I’m starting to become ashamed about going to class and not having done the homework. But I’m not being lazy.
Before Good Friday, I hadn’t had a day completely off from going to classes, working, attending play rehearsal/performing, filling out scholarships, Vantaging, editing for Coelacanth, or doing homework since Jan. 17. Yeah. The day before the semester started.
And really, I didn’t even get Good Friday off because I had homework due that day. So although it was nice to not have class, that’s still not what I would call a break.
On top of that, I had a whole new slew of homework to get done by Monday, and I really didn’t want to have to work through Easter Sunday.
I went to Easter Mass on Saturday night, and one of the readings was the creation story from Genesis. The part that stuck out to me from the entire Mass was Genesis 2:2-3:
“On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.”
I felt that this reading was God’s way of telling me to not worry about homework on Easter, the holiest Sunday of the whole year.
And I didn’t. Okay, I did open a document I’d been working on for a group project, and I read and answered some comments. But besides that, I put everything school-related aside and just enjoyed the day with my family, cleaned my room, ate candy and felt pretty content for the first time in a while.
But of course, going back to classes on Monday, I felt the anxiety creeping back in because I hadn’t done what I was supposed to do.
In no way am I trying to downplay the help that almost all my professors have given me and my classmates this semester by giving us at least one day off from coming to class. To all those professors, thank you x10. (You know who you are).
But I’d be lying if I said that not getting a full day off from all my classes and not having a full day when nothing’s due hasn’t taken a toll on me.
I still think we should have had at least one, if not two, snow days back in February when there was that big snowstorm and rolling blackouts seemed to come out of nowhere. My family’s water was out for a day and a half, and our electricity got shut off twice during those two days. I had to Zoom into one of my classes from my car because my room was too dark and my siblings
were being loud. That was an extremely stressful time. We should have had those days off.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I think the majority of us are stressed to the max right now. I can’t tell you how many times this semester one of my friends has talked about considering dropping out of school — and she’s a senior.
All the work that Newman has put into acquiring mental health services is great, don’t get me wrong. I’m just tired of hearing mental health stressed when we haven’t been given any time to take care of it.
I spoke with a student the other day, and he said he wanted to reschedule an appointment with a therapist through the new mental health platform called the Virtual Care Group. But, he said, he hadn’t been able to because he hadn’t had time.
I know what that’s like. I have my own therapist, and I’ve canceled appointments with her at least twice this semester because it would have stressed me out more to put everything aside to go to those appointments than to just keep grinding out the work I needed to get done.
In an article the Vantage wrote this semester, the dean of students said that she hadn’t heard any protests from students about not having a Spring Break. This shocked me because I had definitely been upset about it and all my friends were, too.
Looking back, I’m disappointed that none of us students protested not having a Spring Break before this semester started, since Newman let us know as early as September that we would not be having it this year.
I know there’s nothing we can do about not having a break now. The end of the semester is in sight. We have about four weeks to go, and then we’re done. I just hope that in the future, Newman won’t take Spring Break away because we “can do it.” Sure we “can.” We do what we’re told. That doesn’t mean it’s going to reflect the best on the university for the grades we might get or the amount of dropouts we might have.
Because of Zoom and online learning options, snow days may be a thing of the past. But please, once COVID is over, give us back Spring Break.
PHOTO: Leanne Vastbinder, Opinion and Online Editor