Breaks are not breaks

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As classes resume following the week-long November break, we can’t help but notice the typical post-break lull many students experience following their return to classes. As it currently stands — assuming no snow days or other unplanned days off — the 2022-23 academic year consists of 11 scheduled days off: Labor day and 10 days during the November and spring recess combined.  

Yet, these breaks are hardly breaks anymore.  

The assumption that students are able to truly relax over break is unjust, as aside from the day or two taken up by either recovering from the semester or preparing to enter it again, students often spend their so-called breaks catching up on assignments, completing work assigned during break, working jobs at home or simply spending much deserved time with family. Regardless of circumstances, it would be unreasonable to assume that break is a time in which students can forget about their responsibilities — academic or otherwise. The 11 days allocated to students is not enough to ensure a sustainable academic environment through the entire year.  

Further, it must be noted that we should not include winter or summer break in our count, as many students choose to or are required to enroll in winter or summer courses, which occupy a majority of both recesses. Internships and jobs also take up much of these recesses, as students often turn to furthering their careers or making money when possible. This burden is most heavily felt by working class students who rely on this money to fund high costs of attending university

The Daily Campus Editorial Board believes strongly that the current system of providing undergraduate students with time off is both outdated and insufficient. The academic calendar abided by students of 2022 is identical to that of students of 2010, and the lack of change by administration remains unsettling.  

Neighboring universities have beat UConn to addressing this issue. Yale University, for one, grants students an additional October recess from Oct. 18-24 and an entire reading week prior to final examinations, as compared to just the weekend before. While we won’t extrapolate and assume the livelihood and happiness of Yale students is better than that of UConn students overall, it must be acknowledged that Yale permits its students more time than UConn does in an attempt to protect their health and wellbeing.  

As we close out the fall semester, ensuring that you devote time in your day to step away from your work and recline is a crucial step in protecting one’s health in body and mind. As such, professors and other administrators must also ensure that they respect student’s right to leisure and rest, and avoid assigning work over any recess period.  

While ongoing mental health epidemics pose an explicit risk to the lives and livelihoods of undergraduates throughout the country, UConn might consider revising break durations more seriously along with other academic protocols impacting student health. To a real extent, the wellbeing of UConn as an institution depends on the wellbeing of their individual students. 

The nature of breaks as a period of rest and healing needs to be made central to the scheduling of breaks at universities — for both students and faculty. Assigning work due for the Sunday after break, for example, often requires preparation and studying that cuts into time that should be spent away from academic activities. If breaks are to be considered legitimate breaks, then this scheme for assigning homework that functionally must be completed over vacations cannot continue. Students may very well be coming home to time-consuming jobs and family commitments — not to diminish the inherent importance of the right to leisure and free time. On the other hand, instructors should not experience excessive pressure to assign this work in the first place. The risk of falling behind on the syllabus is a detriment to both students and professors and could be remedied by departments encouraging more forgiving deadline periods on syllabi. 

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