Originally published Oct. 27, 2013

Co-written with editorial board

Grand Valley State University students had less competition for Grand Rapids parking and more room to move in the bars this weekend thanks to Aquinas College’s fall break. Conversely, the GVSU students had to push forward with their constant student responsibilities while their Aquinas counterparts took a well-needed time-out.

Last week, the University Academic Senate voted down the Student Senate proposal to add a two-day fall break. Despite the survey given to more than 1,300 students with about 86 percent saying that a fall break would help them in their studies, the proposal was not passed.

As students, the Lanthorn staff would like to add our opinion to the mix.

First, as seen in Carly Simpson’s front page article, the UAS explored many options in either adding a week-long break and starting a week earlier or going a week further into winter break. In doing so, of course there is no surprise that students would want to leave the schedule as is. But why is the UAS straying from the original proposal that wouldn’t cause a change in the starting and ending dates of breaks?

The original proposal suggested a — two-day, not week-long — break that would get rid of the Tuesday off after Labor Day and have classes go one extra day into exams. (Let us clarify right now that the Tuesday mini-break is superfluous; we haven’t accrued enough homework and projects during the first week of school to make a stress-reducing break worthwhile).

The UAS is doing anything and everything it can to justify this decision, saying that Student Senate worded the questions to show only the benefits of a fall break. It also said it didn’t think the break would benefit students when the evidence shows that the Counseling Center is busier during mid-October.

If statistics can’t convince faculty that a break is needed, perhaps an anecdote can.

One thing that the UAS needs to remember is that the responsibilities of a student continue from sun-up to sun-down every day of the week. Many—especially those with jobs—have scarce opportunities to recharge even after a few weeks of school. They attend class for 15 hours each week, put in the three-outside-hours-per-credit-hour for an extra 45 hours of academic work, schedule in 30 hours to make tuition payments, and try hard to get the recommended 8 hours of shut eye per night. Once you add on five hours of bus riding, time to exercise and eat, and a few hours for spiritual, professional and personal development, the final 22 hours go fast, leaving maybe a few hours on Saturday for mindless activities to relax and recharge.

Students would greatly benefit from a few extra days either just to catch up or to take some time for themselves and relax. While the opinion of UAS is valued and often valid, in this case, going with the original proposal would not affect the overall schedule for students, faculty and staff and would greatly benefit students’ physical, mental and academic health.


Original publication: http://www.lanthorn.com/article/2013/10/1320-editorial