OPINION: Second semester break days do not give students real breaks

University of Indianapolis students have not received a day off since the semester started, which is quite a long time. With no fall break or day off for Labor Day, the constant work has caused many to struggle. In contrast to this current semester, UIndy has added break days to the 2021 spring semester, according to the academic calendar. However, these break days seem random and are not giving students, faculty and staff the proper days off they deserve. 

According to the calendar, students, faculty and staff have five break days during the spring semester. These days are Thursday, Feb. 11, Monday, Feb. 22, Tuesday, March 16, Wednesday, March 17 and Friday, Apr. 30.

The days are spread out to keep students on campus, according to an email sent Oct. 7 by University President Robert Manuel. The email also said that students are expected to remain on campus, which will be open, on these break days. 

On one hand, I am happy we are receiving some break days during the spring semester. I remember being shocked that we did not even have a day off for Labor Day this semester. This school year has been very stressful for me because of the pandemic, and trying to balance online schoolwork, newspaper responsibilities, time off to relax, friends and family life has been a struggle. A few days off here and there will be very beneficial to students’ mental health. 

However, the selected days off are confusing to me. For example, in March, we have a Tuesday and Wednesday off. While having these days off is great, they interrupt the work week. Professors will have to adjust their schedules to fit two random days off in the middle of a work week. These days could have been used for class time, but instead, professors will have to adjust their schedules to have a random day off in the middle. 

According to Manuel’s email, these break days will give students a chance to destress and recharge. However, these days just seem like days without classes. I do not think they will be used for relaxing. My current schedule does not have any classes that meet on Thursdays, yet I still do schoolwork then. Students and professors will still have schoolwork to do on these days, even though they are break days. 

Again, I am grateful that we are having days off next semester, but when I have days off, I go to see my family. However, going home for a single day, or two days in the case of the March break days, is very inconvenient. So I most likely will stay on campus and spend my time doing what I usually do on weekends and weekdays: homework. 

I understand that students are expected to stay on campus during these break days to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but honestly, students are going to go places anyway. Because students mostly have online classes, there is no need to stay on campus for classes. 

According to Manuel, these break days are equivalent to a spring break but spread throughout the semester. But these random days that break up a work week are not the way to give students some rest. I would have our break days fall on Mondays or Fridays, adding onto students’ weekend.

This pandemic has been stressful for everyone at UIndy. Students and faculty have had to adjust to online classes, and the entire university has had to adjust to an online format. We all have been adjusting throughout this semester to having no breaks, so I think these days off are well deserved. 

I am not sure how long this pandemic will last or how long some courses will remain online, but I hope that next semester will be an experiment for the faculty that will let them see what worked and what did not work, so they can make improvements. Certainly, this pandemic has been a learning experience for many of us. The university has this opportunity to learn about and improve the way it is scheduling classes.

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