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Commentary: Semesters Without Breaks

As the fall semester goes, I have begun to realize how necessary breaks are for a healthy mind and positive results.  This is the first fall semester that we were not given a fall break and it truly shows for some students as they express their lack of sanity as the semester progresses. Coronavirus has truly taken everything from us this year. Graduation, proms and other significant milestones in a young adult’s life. Now the pandemic is once again taking from students. 

We were all hoping that spring semester would have a touch of normalcy since the past ten months have felt like a dramatic action movie. Spring break is one of the highlights of a student’s academic year, from either traveling across the world or sitting on your couch. But you are able to relax and for seven short days you can forget about the “Drake busy” that is put onto your shoulders when you first enter campus. I understand how important it is to stay busy but over-packing your schedule can be dangerous for your mental health. The importance of mental health throughout the United States has become even more emphasized since the beginning of the pandemic and continues to rise with school now being added into the picture. 

I completely understand the reasoning behind Drake’s choice to move spring break to the end of winter break. The safety of the students will always come first and I appreciate Drake taking steps to make sure we continue to be safe. However, I think there were other ways to continue to create a safe environment for students which Drake offered in a short survey they sent out to students. The survey asked if we should move spring break to the end of winter break or later in the semester and not return to campus until fall of 2021. In conversations I held with other students about the movement of our break and all of them said they voted for us to not return from break. Understanding that this is not a representation of all Drake students, it is still a part of the overall population. 

The decision to move online was made by the Faculty Senate, which never addressed why they decided to go that path instead of the other. I believe that they choose this path because Drake will get the most money from their students. If we stay till the end we are paying for a whole semester, although if we leave after spring break they would have to cheapen the price. The email sent by Sue Mattison states that the change was made to “minimize the campus community from leaving the Des Moines area”. This is something that could have also been effective if we did not come back after spring break. Overall I think Drake should have waited, and truly heard their students before making a brash decision that all and all primarily affects the students.

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