Colleges and universities across the country have chosen to do away with spring break this semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By keeping students on campus, the spread of COVID-19 could potentially be mitigated.
In lieu of spring break, Waynesburg University has offered “Wellness Days” to give students some time off.
Near the middle of the semester, when students normally would pack up and head home for a week of spring break, burnout was a common denominator. To some students, it became apparent how desperately they needed a break, and the Wellness Days just weren’t enough.
Sophomore digital design and business management student Sierra Hafer took to Twitter to voice her concerns.
Hafer said that it all started with a picture she saw on Facebook. The picture was about college students needing more than just a random day or two off during a whole semester and how it has made them feel very burnt out.
“I went on Twitter, didn’t think anything of it, but I posted about this picture on Facebook explaining basically how I feel, and I know how my friends are feeling. I wanted to repost it onto Facebook and tag Waynesburg University but I was like ‘Oh that’s not going to do anything,’” Hafer said.
After tweeting about her concerns, the Jared Wiker Burner Account @wikespikeburn retweeted her post to spread the word, tagging the Waynesburg University Twitter account.
“Ever since then, [the Jared Wiker Burner Account] has kind of been everyday trying to prompt Waynesburg to look into my Tweets and look into his Tweets that he’s creating,” Hafer said.
While the owner of the Jared Wiker Burner Account remains anonymous, they did get a reply from Dr. Shari Payne on Twitter.
“Dr. Payne said she’s going to be looking into it and hears our voices and our concerns are heard but that’s as far as that went,” Hafer said. “Even though we get the answer of ‘We’ll see,’ we’re still pressing on it. Even if it’s way too late to try to implement something for this semester, at least hopefully the next few semesters as COVID is getting less severe because of vaccines and such that we’ll be able to have some more freedoms.”
Hafer also said that the two Wellness Days that were given this semester were not enough.
“I wish we would have more [Wellness Days] if anything,” Hafer said. “A random Tuesday or a random Monday or Wednesday off isn’t really going to make a difference rather than if we have a couple of those.”
Even on the Wellness Days, Hafer said she had a lot of assignments that had to be completed.
“Even when it’s supposed to be a Wellness Day, you know take the day off, well, if we have Wednesday off I have something that’s due on Thursday night or even Friday,” Hafer said.
For junior nursing student Amanda Longstreth, the Wellness Days are also just another day to get work done.
“Overall, I think there was good intent behind the Wellness Days, however, I don’t think that they functioned like everyone thought they would,” Longstreth said. “You still had a bunch of assignments that were coordinated around the Wellness Days so it kind of made it almost like you had to do work on those Wellness Days.”
The university recently included Easter Monday with the rest of Easter Break, calling off classes for that day.
Longstreth was grateful, but didn’t understand how two Wellness Days were supposed to compensate for a whole spring break.
“It doesn’t bring about the same relaxation that a Spring Break does because you really can’t catch up on your sleep because you know you’ll have class the next day,” Longstreth said.
Student Senate President Luke Diel recognized how students feel and said these issues have been brought up in conversations with administration.
“We certainly let them know these issues,” Diel said. “Even issues beyond that to where when we do have a Wellness Day, we want there to be more activities on campus or certain stuff that can take students’ minds off of what is happening.”
Diel also said that if Wellness Days continue in the future, he wants to ensure that there are activities to help the mental wellness of students.
“Administration has definitely heard the students call,” Diel said.
Diel also thanks the students for voicing their opinions, saying that it makes his job as president easier.
“One of the largest things is that I want students’ voices to be heard and I want them to come to us,” Diel said. “So when students on Twitter go out and voice their opinions, it’s very easy for me to say ‘Oh we have an issue here,’ and we can easily push.”
Students can also make their voices heard at Student Senate meetings and by talking directly to Student Senate members.
For Hafer, she hopes that someone sees her Tweets and a change is made.
“If someone big does look at this or someone big has been looking at my Tweets and thinking about my Tweets, I just really encourage them and hope and pray that they do take this to someone that can make the proper adjustments,” Hafer said.