By Carley Crain
Springfield College likes to think they always stand by their motto of spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others. This semester, it seemed like they forgot a key component of their motto: mind. Students were not given a customary week-long spring break. Instead, we received three miscellaneous “Wellness Days” over the course of the 15-week semester.
An email that was sent out to the Springfield College community stated that “Classes will not run that day to allow students and faculty to take a well-deserved self-care/wellness break for the day,” when speaking about the meaning of one of the wellness days.
President Cooper sent out another email with a quote that described the intent behind wellness days. “There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither” – Alan Cohen. These days were meant to help student mental health in a difficult and challenging semester. In reality, Wellness Days were unsuccessful.
I understand that a global pandemic is going on and it was a tough decision to make regarding spring break. If we did have a week-long spring break, COVID cases would likely surge due to a majority of students going home or traveling.
Other universities, such as the University of Connecticut cut their semester short to compensate for the lack of an extended break. According to their academic calendar, UCONN students will be having a spring recess from April 11-17. Their last day of semester classes are April 28 and those will be conducted remotely.
Professors were instructed to not assign any homework the day after every Wellness Day so students could relax and not stress about schoolwork. Some of the staff assigned exams on either the Thursday or Friday after those early semester Wellness Wednesdays. Technically they did not assign any homework, so they were “following” the rules.
President Cooper explained in a mass email how students should spend a wellness day.
“We recognize the emotional toll the last three semesters have taken on our community and a day like today is an important pause. So today, trade your textbook for a break. Trade screen time for a walk outside on what promises to be a warm day for February. Trade time at the keyboard for a creative outlet. Trade the pressure of your long to-do list for meditation, mindful breathing, or yoga. Whether you are someone who likes to recharge with friends or someone who prefers solitude, do something today that is good for you.”
However, students had to study for their exams, so for many their wellness days were non-existent.
This semester is already stressful enough. We are still dealing with a global pandemic, most classes are online and seniors are getting ready to say goodbye after a rough last year.
I know right now, for me, stress levels are very high. With no break, I am feeling pretty burnt out at this point in the semester. Feeling burnt out leads to a loss of purpose, motivation, and focus. Having a spring break is an opportunity for students and faculty to reset heading into the last few weeks of the school year.
From an outside perspective, it seemed like the college did care. All of the wellness days included some type of activity, one popular one being an ice cone truck.
Springfield’s social media pages loved to highlight how amazing the wellness days were, with captions like, “Once again, there were no classes scheduled for the day, allowing students and faculty an opportunity for some well-deserved self-care and wellness breaks for the day.” This is a classic example of how social media is just a highlight reel.
For example, Easter Weekend was the one weekend this entire semester I was looking forward to because I was able to see my family again for the first time since Christmas.
For most of the student population, Easter as a holiday is celebrated. Again, part of the school’s motto is “spirit” which relates to religion. I find it funny that spirit is such a big part of the school’s motto, but Easter weekend was still filled with a lot of school work for many students.
I was excited when they announced we would have Friday off because I could go home earlier. Friday, April 2 was considered a wellness day, but instead, I spent the day writing a 3-page paper that was due the following Monday.
This is just one example of how some of the professors did not understand the true meaning of wellness days. For most of Easter weekend, I was anxious about all the work I had due on Monday.
It shouldn’t have been this way. Instead, I should have been able to enjoy the weekend peacefully with my family. Peace is not even a word I can consider close to how this semester has been going so far. In fact, anything opposite of peace is how this semester is currently going.
Talking about mental health is great. Having the resources as we do at the counseling center is great. What is not great is the actions the administration took this semester in regard to spring break.
I am a person that loves school, in fact, many people call me a nerd, but right now I cannot say I love school. All I can say about school right now is the amount of stress and anxiety it is causing me.
Photo: Jack Margaros