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First wellness day gets mixed reviews from students

In the midst of a pandemic, the nation’s colleges faced an unprecedented problem regarding the safety and responsibility of releasing students to travel over spring break. For Miami University, the solution was to create five wellness days sprinkled throughout the spring semester. The first wellness day was Wednesday, Feb. 17.

Director of Wellness Rebecca Baudry Young and Associate Provost Jeffrey Wanko formed and co-chair Miami’s Wellness Committee. 

“It made sense to try to limit traveling back and forth to campus because of spring break,” Baudry Young said. “[But] how would we still give students the opportunity to have some time off and to pace themselves through the semester?”

Professors are not allowed to hold classes and are encouraged not to assign work on wellness days to replicate the relaxation of a traditional spring break. Miami hoped for students to use this time to focus on their own wellness in whatever way they would like. 

“What we would like to see happen on wellness days is that students take advantage of the different opportunities that are available that day,” Baudry Young said. “There’s yoga classes, there's opportunities to do pottery [and] there’s classes around mindfulness.”

Wanko said the Wellness Committee tried to create a variety of activities for students to participate in on wellness days.

“The Wellness Committee worked really hard to put together a website with some different activities that could be real-time or asynchronous,” Wanko said. “It gets the whole campus to think about wellness in multiple ways.”

First-year biology and pre-medical studies double major Sammie Marcum spent her first wellness day skiing. 

“I went home [to Liberty township] after my in-person class [the day before], and then the next day, I woke up really early and went skiing at Perfect North,” Marcum said. “It was really fun.”

For Marcum, however, homework was still looming. 

“I didn’t do any homework whatsoever, which I guess was relaxing,” Marcum said. “But the next day, I had so many assignments due at 11:59, so I kind of wish that I’d done homework on my wellness day. I waited until Thursday to do everything, which was not ideal, but it was good to actually experience a good wellness day.”

First-year Nikki Cox also said she had lots of homework and assignments to complete on her wellness Day. 

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“I did a lot of homework, and I went ice skating with some of my friends,” Cox said. “I did not feel more relaxed, I spent the entire day attempting to get caught up on my work.”

For Cox, the wellness day disrupted her routine.

“It did throw off my entire schedule for the week because it fell on a Wednesday, so it completely threw off all sense of time that I had, and that kind of threw me off for doing work,” Cox said.

First-year Micah Ball also spent his wellness day doing assignments.

“I basically did homework the entire day,” Ball said. “I kind of took that evening to rest a little bit, but it was just kind of a normal workday because I only missed like one class because of the wellness day.”

Because of his homework, Ball felt like he missed out the relaxation of a wellness day.

“I don’t feel particularly strongly in any way,” Ball said. “I was a little bit perturbed that it wasn’t exactly a rest day when it was supposed to be.”