OPINION: Bring back spring break for WSU students

WSU decision upends students, forces staff, faculty to change schedules last minute

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COURTESY OF UNSPLASH

Spring break is a time to relax and unwind — students need that.

MADELINE GREER, Evergreen columnist

WSU recently announced its plans to cancel spring break for spring 2021. They decided to add three days off during the semester and start the semester a week later than originally scheduled. These days off are scattered throughout the semester and are midweek.

As someone who normally uses their spring break to reorganize themselves, catching up on coursework and taking a day or two to relax, this decision was unexpected.

There was very little to no student input when WSU made this decision. Many students are frustrated that the university made this decision without asking students, who pay money to go to school, about their thoughts on canceling a full week of a pre-planned break. WSU should listen to student and faculty’s concerns and reconsider their decision to cancel spring break.

Everyone who attends WSU is affected by this decision. It affects both those who complete assignments and grade assignments.

Jennifer Madigan, president of the Biology Graduate Students Association, said as a TA, this is the time when she grades assignments.

“Spring break is a time where we can grade reports,” Madigan said. “We have either lab reports or essays, and professors schedule them so that the TAs can grade over spring break. The classes are formatted that way.”

Many students use this time to study for upcoming exams because this is a week where no assignments are due. Without a spring break, many students must find other times to plan and study. Taking away spring break will make student life more stressful.

Madigan said she was planning on scheduling her preliminary exams to become a doctoral candidate after spring break so that she could use the week off to prepare and study.

While some students use the week of spring break to study, others use it as a mental break from the busy semester.

Aryn Vaughan, senior human development major, said spring break is a time to rest.

“Being able to take consecutive days off where you don’t have to think about projects or due dates, [and] just getting to turn off the computer for a little bit and log out would be really helpful with everything that’s going on,” Vaughan said.

To fix the problem, WSU has decided to add three one-day off days throughout the semester. However, these days off are either on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. This raises questions about whether or not these days will truly be a day off from coursework.

Because a majority of classes have switched to online, I have been on my computer for hours and hours at a time watching lectures, taking notes and taking exams. These one-day breaks will probably still have an assignment due.

“I don’t see it being very likely that there will be a guarantee that there won’t be assignments to do and things to study for,” Vaughan said. “That’s traditionally what happens when you have a long weekend.”

If there is not an assignment due that day, many students may watch lectures or work on assignments that are due the next day. Live classes may be canceled for the day, but I have a planned week where I watch my pre-recorded lectures on a certain day to make sure I’m on track with course schedules. If Tuesday is a day off, and I normally watch a lecture on a Tuesday, I will watch it then. It would be more stressful to try and cram it in on another day.

Many of us are wondering why spring break was canceled if a majority of classes are going to be online. There are currently many students living in Pullman because they were not sure how their classes would be taught. Unfortunately, a number of students have violated social distancing guidelines that are in place, which I think is a factor for why WSU canceled spring break. The goal is to avoid partying and people leaving the area.

“I think a lot of students feel this way and can agree that they feel like they’re being punished for actions of those few students who make bad decisions,” Madigan said.

I understand the university’s reasons for canceling spring break and trying to stop the spread of COVID-19. I encourage people to continue wearing masks and practice social distancing. However, the university should ask for student input before making such an important decision.

Not only will students have to adapt to another 15 weeks of online courses next semester, but they will have to learn to manage it without the traditional weeklong spring break.