Students share opinions on Wellness Days, Spring Break cancellation
Eastern Michigan University canceled their "one week Winter Break," an equivalent to Spring Break, and replaced it with two Wellness Days. Student opinion about losing the break is also low at EMU, Vogler said. EMU had two Wellness Days on March 3 and 4.
“I’ve heard a lot of other people complaining about (the amount of work they had onWellness Days),” said EMU junior Anneliese Vogler. "Personally, I was one of the lucky ones. I still had (some) to do homework because I had things due later in the week, but still.”
Christine Findoorf, a sophomore at Ferris State University, said there is no spring break or wellness days for FSU students. Findoorf also said that students did not hear from the university until after rumors of the cancellation had already spread through the student body.
“I feel like they planned [to cancel] it from the beginning of the semester,” Findoorf said. “I don’t want to say they weren’t open about it, but they weren’t, like, sending out emails about it. I work part time at the dining facilities and I actually heard it from one of the cooks there.”
Central Michigan University’s decision to cancel Spring Break has been a controversial one and remains a hot topic of discussion among the campus community during an almost 17 week-long semester.
Students and faculty alike have said that the seven wellness days, while being nice to have, have not been an adequate replacement for a dedicated Spring Break. The same holds true in some other schools that have also removed their Spring Break.
The break was canceled to prevent CMU community members from traveling on vacations and potentially spreading COVID-19. In an Oct. 19 email to students, Provost Mary Schutten gave more reasoning for the cancellation and the purpose of the wellness days.
“These dates are intended to provide time away from homework, class activities and meetings and other stressors, so students and faculty can enjoy a much-needed and well-deserved break,” Schutten said in her email.
According to several CMU students, the wellness days were an opportunity for them to catch up on assignments, with some calling them “just an extra homework day.”
There are no rules explicitly preventing faculty from assigning due dates on or around the wellness days, meaning many students have found themselves doing hours of schoolwork on their day off.
Saudi Arabia junior Bader Alsuqayh participated in a free painting event on March 10. When asked if he was enjoying the Wellness Day, he said, “not really.”
“I think that it would work better if we had a full week rather than just having one day every couple of weeks,” Alsuqayh said. “It’s just wasted.”
Many students have spent the Wellness Days with warm weather outside. Pewamo sophomore Emily Martin and Westphalia sophomore Valerie Schafer went for a walk and then sat in the Isabella Bank Pavilion to chat.
“I would prefer a Spring Break,” Martin said, “I feel like I have homework and stuff to do on (the Wellness Days), so I don't really enjoy them that much. Sometimes teachers even have, like, assignments due on a wellness day and I'm busy trying to finish those up during the day off.”
Some students spent their wellness day doing homework outside because of the improved weather. Grand Rapids freshman John Kulich was busy on an assignment at a picnic table outside the Bovee University Center.
“I was kind of bummed when I heard that these wellness days were happening,” Kulich said. “It kind of sucked because I didn’t get a break in the middle of the semester that I feel like is needed.”
Sophomore Kennedy Babicz has two courses that follow an asynchronous format in which classes are not required to have meetings. Babicz said her assignments are always due on the same day every week, regardless of wellness days.
“For one of my classes,” Babicz said, “most of the assignments are due on the Thursday, so then I had to have everything done that night so it was ready to be turned in, which sucks because the one wellness day--it wasn’t a break because I still had to have all that stuff done.”
CMU is among several other institutions that have cancelled their Spring Break for safety. Students from other universities have also expressed dissatisfaction with how the situation has been handled.
Jen Newton, who teaches special education at Ohio University, wrote on Twitter on March 6 in support of students. According to Newton, OU has three wellness days this semester.
“College students really, really need a break,” Newton said in the tweet. “A real break. Not a random Tuesday. This is hard. Burnout is real.”
Newton’s statement has been retweeted over 70,000 times and has received almost 330,000 likes.
“Just all of the demands that I think people are really unaware of that students are facing, and they’re just drained,” Newton said. “They’re just so tired.”
CMU history faculty member Andrew Wehrman has also noticed the strain that virtual learning has had on his students.
“I’m not sure I have a lot to say on the subject,” Wehrman said, “but I can certainly report what I’ve heard from students: that wellness days, while still welcome when they happen, have not been much of a substitute for the sustained feeling of relief that Spring Break provides, and that for most, [Wellness Days] are days to catch up on the work that they cannot get done during an ordinary week.”
After recently passing the usual spring break period, students are stressed more than ever about their workload. With virtual learning becoming the new normal, the lines between work time and time off are becoming more and more blurred for today’s college students.