Fall Break or Just Another Weekend?

Fall Break or Just Another Weekend?

Michael López , Reporter

Just this last weekend, Rockhurst University students were rewarded with their first mid-semester break since the Fall 2019 semester. Since students started to return to campus in the Fall of 2020, they have endured long semesters with little time for rest in between. Nonetheless, even though it is the first time students have had a “break” within the semester in nearly two years, many students struggled to feel the much deserved effects of their time off. 

At the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester, students were informed that their fall break would be cancelled, mainly to discourage unwarranted travel during a time when there was less information known about the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, students were given a slightly longer Thanksgiving break, along with a list of rules regarding policy during the necessary holiday time off. As a result, though students were hopefully able to disassociate themselves from lengthy zoom meetings for a few days, there was likely little feeling of Thanksgiving Break at all, as students were confined to their homes and in most cases unable to interact with family as they usually would at this time. 

Before the start of 2021, students were once again informed that they would lose their mid-semester break privilege. This time, however, the break they were losing was spring break. To compensate for this, the University granted us a lengthier winter break, once again allotting us a week of less scheduled zoom sessions during a time where we were prevented from doing much of anything else. Nonetheless, even after the long winter break came to a close, a vaccine had become approved and for the first time in over a year there seemed to be some hope regarding the future of some normalcy in the the world, Rockhurst students were subjected to a semester with no break that they were forced to navigate until  the early summer. 

Finally, during this semester, things are in many ways returning to “normal.” However, with the world having completely changed in the last year, along with the challenges students have had to endure as they have navigated nearly two years of a college education with little time to breath in between, many have wondered whether the normally structured Fall break is really a “break” at all?

Fall break cancels class on a Friday and Monday, meaning that there is absolutely no time for breathing room within any Tuesday and Thursday scheduled classes students may have. Additionally, it appears that a significant concentration of students at the University do not have any classes on Monday or Friday at all, a fact that effectively prevents them from even having a “break” in the first place. 

Some students, such as junior Dylan Schaffer, weighed in on their interpretation of the break. “Fall break was not very beneficial because of how short it was… the majority of my classes are on Tuesday and Thursday, so I did not even get a Fall Break,” Schaffer said. In addition, Schaffer went on to explain what he thought might be a better solution to ensure that students receive some mid-semester relief. “For the future, I think Rockhrust should give students a Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off, or something to that level, instead of calling a weekend a ‘fall break,’” Schaffer said.

Another student, senior George Lisac, shared his thoughts on the matter as well. “Fall break wasn’t super noticeable because I had substantial coursework due right before and immediately after. In fact, I even had to work on exams during it,” said Lisac. Due to the ability of certain professors to assign exams following the break or homework during, many students, regardless of being permitted to miss class, did not feel they were granted a break at all. 

In order to ensure students are able to have some relief from at least one of all of their classes, many students feel that the University should seriously consider taking at least one Tuesday or Thursday off the schedule as well. Additionally, the University should take a stronger stance against professors providing assignments that negate the desired effects of the break altogether. 

For many, having a Fall break did offer at least some relief, as it symbolized a return to campus operations that is more in line with how things were prior to COVID-19. However, if the pandemic has taught us anything by now, it is that “normal,” in many ways, is not good enough. People have worked very hard to keep up with the world as it has constantly changed and college students, more than anyone, have adapted to figure out how they will be able to engage with this new world once they have completed their studies. As a result, perhaps “normal” campus operations simply are not good enough anymore. Instead, maybe it is time for a “new -normal,” a normal that recognizes the hard work of students and rewards them with some actual time off.