The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
When you think of spring break, you might think of college kids heading down to Florida beaches for a week of binge-drinking, hooking up with strangers and whatever else goes along with MTV’s idea of a good time.
That seems to be exactly what Miami University President Greg Crawford and the administration are picturing. As a result, they have followed in the footsteps of nearby schools by dismantling the week-long spring break into five “reading days” that are being placed sporadically throughout the spring semester.
So, get your books ready … I guess?
We get it; this will help cut down on widespread travel by students in the spring which will help control COVID-19 case numbers. And the administration didn’t drag its feet on this one, giving us notice months in advance, which we, of course, appreciate.
But, just because you take the spring out of spring break, doesn’t mean you can take out the most important part of it — the break.
These shouldn’t be called reading days. They should be branded as mental health days, intended for students to shut down their laptops and take some time for themselves like we typically do in mid-March. Many of us count down the days until that week in the spring when we can take off our student hats and just breathe.
To ensure students get a real break on these days, there needs to be parameters for professors to follow — for their own good as well as ours.
There shouldn’t be any assignments due on these days or the day after, otherwise, it will be like any other day where a professor emails you that class is canceled for the day. These are not days to catch up on work or revise an essay due at 10 a.m. the following day — they are a necessary break from being a college student.
Canvas notifications should not be popping up on anyone’s phones, and emails should not be flooding anyone’s inboxes. We don’t want to see a single “Your assignment has been graded,” or a “New assignment created.”
Professors should be taking a break, too, so no school-related notifications should be on anyone’s radar as a sender or receiver.
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The only notification we do want is a clear reminder that a mental health day is coming up. The university should send an email the day before and the day of, reminding students to log off and destress. Especially with these days being placed throughout the semester on random days, the school needs to be clear about when they’re happening.
Make it clear to professors as well that they not only more than deserve but need a break themselves. We’ve all heard so many stories of overwhelmed professors trying their best to give their students the best remote-learning experience they possibly can, and it takes a toll.
Re-brand these “reading days” to be mental-health days, prioritize giving students and faculty a well-deserved break, set parameters and remind us all when they’re actually happening because there’s a lot going on, if you haven’t noticed, and we could use a little extra help.
This is going to be weird, but make the purpose of these days clearer than a blue sky over the beach in a Florida spring.