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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Health and Wellness Days ineffective


We need a longer break

College students are silently suffering and burning out, and all we’re getting is a couple of days off as a nod to mental health and wellness. 

Weekends are simply days where we can get work done without interruptions, such as class or extracurricular meetings. Sure, everyone is suffering from the pandemic—but most adults’ jobs go only from 9-5 and end when they close that last Zoom meeting.

For college students, it’s work 24/7. If you aren’t in a class, you’re in a Zoom session. If you aren’t in a Zoom session, you’re studying or working on assignments. On top of this, we have even seen the death of the snow day as we know it. 

My college existence currently consists of either doing work or grocery shopping. Weekends are time to get work done for the upcoming week, yet the week is also time to get work done before the weekend, and so on and so forth. And if you’re not doing work, you’re feeling guilty about not doing work. 

It also seems as if, in the minds of some professors, the coronavirus pandemic has translated into the idea that students now have more time to do work. Just because I only go to campus for class three days a week does not mean I suddenly have more hours in the day. And, in case anyone’s forgotten, dealing with a global pandemic is a large thing for one to have on their plate. 

The university has students working for 16 weeks straight, all gas and no brakes, with just a few days known as “Health and Wellness Days.” Am I supposed to be holding out for the two days off that are supposed to count as Easter break?

These Health and Wellness Days actually feel like salt in the wound. Sure, we have no spring break or snow days, but here is a random Tuesday off to make you feel better. 

The late semester end date is also problematic. Yes, we began the semester a week late, but we have no spring break and very few days off, so that should be factored into the end date for finals. 

It’s as if the university thinks we’ll say, “Wow, last week’s Health and Wellness Day cleared my pores, watered my plants and fixed all of my problems! Suddenly I am no longer burdened by the constant, crushing weight of a global pandemic, increased amount of work and no opportunities for stress outlets in my life!” 

Here’s what I did on our most recent Health and Wellness Day: in the morning, I went and did my grocery shopping. Then I spent the entire remainder of the day doing work. It has nothing to do with my time management skills; it has everything to do with the unyielding amount of work that we are still being assigned.

The Health and Wellness Days have a nice sentiment, I guess, but they function only as days without class, where we can get work done for those classes, where our professors give us work so we don’t “fall behind.”

 I understand St. Joe’s logic in not giving us spring break, I really do. If we have a long period of time off, people will travel and potentially spread COVID-19 to other places and bring it back to school as well. But it’s a lot to ask 18-22 year olds to work nonstop for 16 weeks. It would still  make sense to let us have a week off and then give us the at-home COVID-19 tests again. We could have the first two weeks of school after spring break all online, to give people time to quarantine in school housing, and then get tested again before returning to regular class. At least then we could have some time to decompress. 

For people working office jobs, it’s different. They can sign into their Zoom meetings and do their work during the day, but when they’re done, they’re done. There remains a clear distinction between work hours and leisure hours. Leisure hours no longer exist for college students, that distinction has disappeared. Every hour is either time to get work done, or time spent not getting work done. 

I suppose we’ll all just continue working nonstop until Easter, or the next Health and Wellness Day, or until finals are over at the end of May. Surely everyone will be okay with that and not crash and burn—apparently college students are now meant to work every hour of every day and be just fine with it. 

In the meantime, for the next few weeks, I’ll be using the upcoming spring sunshine and beautiful weather to cope, and hope that St. Joe’s decides to throw in some more much needed days off as a treat for us. 

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