Students express concerns over academic calendar changes for the fall

“So [we’re] supposed to just act like taking away multiple mid-semester off-days is okay,” University of Indianapolis junior music performance major Pearce Edwards posted on the UIndy App less than an hour after University President Robert Manuel announced changes to the academic calendar for the fall term due to COVID-19. Manuel announced the changes in an email on May 22.

Campus holidays for the fall semester, including Labor Day, Fall Break, Veterans Day and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Break, will now be instructional days and students will not have these days off like they have in years past, according to the email.

Soon after the announcement, students began expressing their concerns about the changes on the UIndy App. Edwards is upset by some of the changes made to the calendar and said that removing the breaks will add to students’ stress. 

“It’ll [the semester] be exactly what it shouldn’t be,” Edwards said. “It’ll be something that was originally, for the most part, completely manageable, and now is even worse because you don’t get a second throughout that entire 15-week span of time to sit down and take a breather and not think about it.” 

Edwards is not alone when it comes to thinking that stress will be added for students. Sophomore communication major Carrie Long agrees with Edwards about the added stress and said that 15 weeks with no breaks will be taxing on students.

“That is just ridiculous in my opinion,” Long said. “College is so stressful, imagine being a freshman, this is your first year of college and you don’t get any breaks.”

Manuel said that stress and anxieties were taken into consideration during the planning process. Institutions around the country are developing and finding ways to help with stress relief, such as tele-counseling and mental health tele-counseling, according to Manuel.

“It is something we will keep an eye on and try to provide some relief for, but in the end, as the faculty and the staff and administrators debated, this was the best course of action,” Manuel said.

For students like sophomore archaeology and earth-space science double major Alec Deuel, losing breaks is beyond stressful he said. He has concerns about pre-planned doctor’s appointments.

“I have a medical specialist that I see on a regular basis and insurance only covers the check-ups on a yearly basis,” Deuel said. “Losing the two fall break days means missing a vital appointment or missing class and I have to choose between my health or my grades, which are tied to scholarships.”

Long and Edwards both said that the Wednesday before the Thanksgiving holiday is for preparing for Thanksgiving and traveling to see family. Edwards believes that people need the day before Thanksgiving Day to travel because not everyone lives in close to proximity to the university. 

The decision to eliminate breaks was made so that the term is done earlier and we can be home for a longer period of time between semesters, according to Manuel. Manuel said this is when the community may have to go into social distancing strategies because of the prediction that the flu and COVID-19 may coincide.

“We’re usually between difficult decisions and really hard decisions, there’s no great path for anything or anybody here,” Manuel said. “We have to be cognizant of what is going to keep our population healthy and how we continue to enable the academic progress that so many are counting on.”

If students have questions or concerns about the calendar changes, they can submit those using the COVID-19 form, according to the email sent by Manuel.