Wellness days: Waste of time or saving grace?

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Story by Lila Leticia, Reporter

Photo courtesy pexels.com

Mental health on college campuses today looks different than it did a year ago. The pandemic has changed how we function, and even with some return to normalcy through in-person classes, that doesn’t mean things are getting easier on students. 

Recently, at the campus Faculty Assembly, concerns were brought up regarding students’ mental health. The lack of spring break and the constant homework with no time to catch up is leaving students drained. Some people were advocating for schoolwide “wellness days” to accommodate not having a full week of spring break. Many other colleges throughout the country have implemented them, but Aquinas has not at the administrative level. While it seems easy to say we should implement these days to help students, there are concerns:.

Could one day off really improve students’ mental health?

Isn’t that just more time for homework?

That messes up the syllabus I created.

What about labs?

Will students really take full advantage of this day?

These questions have surrounded the topics of wellness days at Aquinas and other colleges. On one hand, bringing up throwing in these mental health days mid-semester is unfair to professors who have put work into designing a structured course with no room for a day off in order to fit in all of the material. But without necessary breaks, will students even be able comprehend the information? Without time to process, students aren’t in a position to receive the material and actually take it in. Being in a poor state of mental health makes retaining and understanding information even harder. These wellness days would provide students the opportunity to come to a better understanding of course material.

However, this doesn’t account for degrees that have exams at the end to get into graduate programs, medical school, nursing exams, etc. There is material professors have to cover give in order for students to be successful. In the end, that’s what everyone wants. 

It’s a question of what’s truly important to our community now. Society places such importance on being successful–getting good grades, graduating, getting a job. Are these things still as important as they were prior to the pandemic? Or does this newfound awareness and attention to mental health matter more? 

The one year anniversary of COVID-19 in the United States has come and passed. As a society we have progressed further than just go to class, do your work, get good grades. The college experience is about more than that. Students should be able to enjoy it even during a pandemic. The lack of breaks and mental health support impacts our ability to do so. 

We all understand success and finding a career is important–why else would we pay thousands of dollars to attend classes? But shouldn’t a university that is also about experience, community, and connection be more focused on mental wellbeing? 

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