SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WRBL) – Syracuse University decided to provide two wellness days for students during the spring semester instead of the traditional week-long spring break due to the coronavirus pandemic.
SU won’t hold classes, require classwork to be due or administer exams on Tuesday, March 23 and Wednesday, April 21.
Chancellor Kent Syverud announced the decision during a January University Senate meeting, and said it was made at the request of students. More than 2,400 students and parents signed a Change.org petition calling on SU to add wellness days to the calendar after spring break was cut. The school did not attribute its decision to the petition.
Even though many students understood why spring break wasn’t feasible due to COVID and travel concerns, some expressed frustration with the university for not doing more.
“Even if we had like a week off, I know people would travel, but for me, it’s like I don’t want to travel,” said Lexi Whitcomb a policy studies sophomore. “I just want to have a period of time where I don’t have tons of things to do every day, and so I think two days is not enough to supplement that and relieve stress in the way that spring break does.”
“I feel that two really isn’t enough,” said Hailey Schector, a political science and citizenship and
civic engagement senior. “I almost feel like it’s not worth it to have them at all. If the school truly cared about our wellness they would give us more.”
In the original petition, there were six dates proposed for wellness days – one in February, two in
March and April, and one in May.
Whitcomb said the Tuesday off didn’t feel like a break because it was in the middle of the week and she still had lots of work due in classes the rest of the week. On the other hand, she felt like she should have spent the day out with friends.
“Definitely feeling burned out and this did not help at all,” Whitcomb said. “It’s really hard to get work done when all your friends are having fun and you’re supposed to be having a wellness day and you’re just unwell because of all the work.”
Schector agreed and said she would have wanted to have a long weekend or two instead.
“I think that would have helped me instead of it being in the random middle of the week,” Schector said. “I still had work to do today. It wasn’t a day off.”
Other universities implemented some form of wellness days this semester either before or after students created petitions for them to do so. Duke University scheduled a two-day break in March as well as a wellness day in April. Boston University added two wellness days in addition to the already planned days off on Presidents’ Day and Patriot’s Day on April 9.
Even though Whitcomb and Schector did spend most of the day off catching up on homework or
at work, both found a few fun things to do.
“I got coffee and I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in a while,” Whitcomb said.
“I went and got ice cream with some of my roommates after dinner,” Schector said.
Whitcomb also added that she is looking forward to the next wellness day in April.