By Qur’an Hansford
COVID-19 this, COVID-19 that. I am starting to think that the word normal no longer has relevance to our vocabulary. This past year has been filled with abnormality under the guise of restoration.
From zoom classes and the elimination of pass/fail to remove this year’s spring break — nothing has been normal. As expected, the university feared the rise in positive cases if they allowed spring break this year, rightfully so. But to suggest students grind for three months straight without any sort of disengagement is wishful thinking.
The university sent out a campus-wide email just as our Christmas break was concluding:
“Unfortunately, the uphill marathon of this pandemic continues into the spring semester. As you are well aware, we made the decision to postpone the beginning of the spring semester and cancel spring break with the hope that the spike in COVID-19 cases due to the holidays would be decreasing as well as the need to curtail travel among our students during the spring semester. As a result of this decision, classes will run 13 weeks straight with no break.”
According to NBC News, San Diego State University (SDSU) has become the latest on the list of four-year institutions across the country to cancel spring break because of COVID-19 safety concerns. Some schools, like SDSU, have gotten rid of spring break altogether, a move criticized by students who say it could have a detrimental effect on their mental health. SDSU has countered this criticism by giving students single days off over the same period, but most students said it is not enough. Other institutes that have canceled their spring breaks include Florida State University, Ohio State University, Boston University and the University of Michigan, where students will receive two one-day “well-being breaks” without any scheduled academic activities in February and March.
Rider has not implemented any well-being breaks, although some have administered their wellness breaks for students, but not all.
I wanted to use this editorial space to highlight some student voices from our community about how they feel about 13 weeks straight with no break.
Andriana Rice-Gilmore (senior journalism major)
Last year, I was looking forward to spring break because my friends and I were going to Canada, we had everything paid for and we were super excited about it. Of course, COVID-19 took its course and it ended up sending us straight home without even returning to campus. This year, I was excited to think that we were going to have a spring break because things are starting to open up again, there were new ways to protect ourselves and take on safety precautions.
I’m a senior and I wanted to do something enjoyable with my friends as a last hurrah, but now that we don’t have a spring break or any break for that matter is very overwhelming. I feel like I’m drowning in my classes right now. I feel like there is always something to do and now it is being rushed. It has taken away from the enjoyment of college, especially my senior year. I feel like some professors have been kind enough to not add too much work and there are others that genuinely just don’t care and expect us to still meet deadlines. I don’t think they realize how much of a toll it takes on students.
Kate McCormick (freshman English major)
I’m much busier this semester than last semester, and not having a break is intimidating. It’s important to be able to have a break from schoolwork. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed balancing school with work, and a lot of times due dates for my classes line up to be on the same days. I wish Rider had implemented something like other schools where they put in sporadic rest days, at least something to ease the mental strain of students.
Liz Curcio (Dec. graduate and wellness coach)
As a health and wellness coach and a recent grad of Rider, I sense that eliminating spring break is already having negative consequences on the current student body. While I understand the reason behind why Rider and many other schools have decided to eliminate spring break, I do think a few days off scattered throughout March/April, would’ve been a good alternative. I believe that taking this valuable time away is going to lead to “burnout” in some students.
Rider students are serious about their studies and are always achieving high standards. I worry that these students are going to complete assignments that don’t show their full potential or just in general- begin to have a lack of motivation. The world around us is already stressed out enough. Adding fuel to the fire isn’t going to make things better.
Saifu Alharazim (senior biology major)
When I first heard that we didn’t have spring break I wasn’t surprised. I didn’t think much of it at the beginning of the semester. but as the semester progressed, I began to wish that there was a break. Having no spring break hasn’t affected me in any way, it’s just something that I normally look forward to. I understand why the school would decide to take away spring break, but in my opinion, I feel like we should’ve still had one. People are still traveling, so having no break didn’t stop those who wanted to travel. A whole semester without break is long, but I understand the reason why we didn’t have one.
Qur’an Hansford (senior journalism major)
My spring break was just going to be filled with retail and rest — there was no beautiful getaway or special plans, just simply a break. I need a break from scheduled meetings, from Google Docs and Canvas alerts. I wanted to aimlessly watch movies or online shop, now I cannot look at my laptop without thinking about school work. I cannot even sleep without feeling guilty about missing something that is not due. School has consumed every possible sector of life, influences every second of my day. I don’t even know how to relax. The two days that we get at the end of each week are nothing but prep time for the week, not winding down but rather getting an early start.
With event planning for my organization, writing for the paper, working, as well as being a full-time student trying to manage a social life, finding time to myself is practically fictional. How can one possibly excel in all these areas without proper care of themselves? This cannot possibly be the environment suitable for young scholars but if it is one thing college does teach you, it is the reality of many overworked and underpaid adults in America.
If you can, find time to set aside your break. You’ll need it.
This editorial expresses the unanimous opinion of The Rider News Editorial Board. This week’s editorial was written by Opinion Editor Qur’an Hansford