After polling 98 students of Saint Joseph’s University on the @sjuhawkchill Instagram account, it is clear that an overwhelming majority of students would have preferred to have a full spring break over the two health and wellness days that replaced a break this semester. The results are displayed below:
In an announcement on December 10th 2020, an academic calendar for the spring semester was sent to students and staff with changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In hopes to alleviate risk of an increased spread of the virus on campus, spring break was taken away from the calendar and was replaced with two mental health days. These mental health days were scheduled for March 2nd, a Tuesday, and April 28th, a Wednesday. Interviews with Senior Haub Business Student Amanda D’amadeo and Communications Professor Dr. Steven Hammer shed light on the student and staff body using these days to catch up or get ahead on work, rather than focusing on their mental wellbeing. They have felt overworked and burned out this semester more than ever.
In response to the question, “How did you spend your mental health day?” D’amadeo responded, “I spent the last mental health day doing work entirely. I worked on a presentation that was due the following day, a paper with an upcoming deadline, and I studied for an exam. All of my friends did the same, even though we really wanted a break and to spend time doing something fun together.” She spent her spring break in previous years spending time with friends and family, hiking, baking, and exploring her hometown as a change of environment from her school apartment. Not having this chance to unwind has made completing schoolwork a more tiresome and overwhelming task.
When interviewing Professor Steven Hammer, he stated that in previous spring breaks, he has gone on trips with his friends that live across the country. Because of the pandemic, he would not have done any major traveling this year if Saint Joseph’s University had a spring break. However, he would have spent the week hiking new trails, finding shorter road trips to complete in a day, and spending a lot more time outside. Instead, Hammer spent his health and wellness day and Easter break meeting with students and grading assignments. He stated, “I actually forgot that we had a mental health day this semester- I guess that provides some insight on its effectiveness.”
Through our survey and interviews, I have found that many students and staff members are feeling especially worn out and overworked this year, and would have preferred having a full spring break instead of the newly added health and wellness days.