This semester has been, for better or worse, unforgettable. We started the Spring semester off with an unprecedented spike in COVID cases on campus, followed by a lot of uncertainty as to whether or not we could continue our semester here. Eventually cases tapered off because of the student body’s dedication to putting community first and prioritizing our health and place on campus. Now, those who are eligible are simply sequestered to being frequently selected for surveillance testing. However, it is a small price to pay, spitting in a tiny tube, if it means having the security of staying on campus for the entirety of the semester.
Months after the dramatic spike, students are now dealing with the repercussions of the lack of mental breaks throughout the semester. Although the “Working Breaks” were well intentioned, they were not effective in giving students a decent break. In some instances, professors did not honor the regulations the Working Breaks were intended to implement, scheduling minor quizzes during those days. As a result, burnout has permeated the general atmosphere around campus, with many students struggling to maintain the level of motivation that is necessary to get through finals. It is unfortunate that due to the lack of proper scheduling, students must deal with burnout while trying to make the most of their spring on campus. For some, this is the first time that students are experiencing this time of year on campus, yet there is an intangible exhaustion throughout the student body.
This raises the question of whether or not the University has done enough to support student’s mental health throughout these trying times. The pandemic is nothing new to us at this point, but a demanding schedule and disproportionate time allotted for breaks is. It is worth noting that going to college amidst a pandemic, one that has brought tragedy, pain, and hardship globally, seemingly should warrant more breaks than less. While the University perhaps was well-intentioned, the administration should have learned from the fall semester that working breaks would not suffice.
This late in the semester, it seems unlikely that new, substantive efforts to support student morale will be implemented. Instead, students are left to individually make an effort to support themselves and create time for relaxation. It is at the utmost importance that we as a community actively promote an environment on campus that seeks to foster support for our peers.
If we have learned anything this semester, it is that we are capable of cultivating an environment of support within the student body that strengthens the overall atmosphere of campus. At least we can, hopefully, look forward to next year with a normal break schedule.