By Stephen Neukam
Rider students and administrators are in a state of disapproval over the university’s plans for the spring semester after it decided to cancel spring break and schedule no other recess for students, resulting in a clear disparity between university policy and student experience.
Students confronted administrators about the decision at a town hall meeting on Nov. 19, raising concerns about the university’s inability to find a compromise to give students time off and a lack of empathy from the administration and faculty about students’ mental health.
Administrators at the meeting said that they were not scheduling any additional breaks because time requirements for courses made it difficult to find alternatives. One student at the meeting raised concern that the administration had not tried hard enough to find a solution. Student Government Association (SGA) President Dylan Erdelyi, a senior musical theater major, said that the conflicts that prevented the university from granting students time off were easily resolvable and pointed to other universities that have canceled spring break but managed to give students other respites.
Student leadership was caught off guard by the university’s decision. According to Erdelyi, his organization was not made aware of the administration’s move to not schedule additional breaks for students. Erdelyi was deeply concerned by the decision.
“I’m talking to a lot of my fellow students who are struggling to get through 12 weeks [of a semester], especially given the pandemic,” said Erdelyi. “We have never, since I’ve been at Rider, been through 13 consecutive weeks. That is concerning.”
Erdelyi, who said student mental health was one of his top priorities, was also worried that the university had not proposed any other safeguards to lessen the burden on students, including lower workloads on weekends or a pass/no credit option.
Administrators at the meeting said that they would continue to search for ways to give students breaks during the semester and that they were open to suggestions from students.
Junior secondary education major Melanie Gallo said that she was satisfied with the explanations that the administration gave for their decision at the town hall but was hopeful that the university would consider giving students periodic days off in the spring to compensate for the loss of spring break.
“We all feel the struggle and pressure of our courses and life and the need for sleep,” said Gallo. “If we had some grace from the professors as well as a mental health day here and there I think we would feel more comfortable. This could ease the fear of going straight through for 13 weeks.”