I’ll admit the name still needs work.
With warm weather gracing the presence of Storrs students this week, and with the everlasting difficulties students face day-in and day-out, we ought to deserve a break. Class cancellations are commonly associated with inclement weather such as snow or hail, and seldom occur during the spring semester. Yes, we have spring break, but waking up to nine messages alerting you that classes have been cancelled inspires a rush. As trivial or silly as this may sound, I believe there’s a genuine argument as to why the University of Connecticut, and all colleges for that matter, should institute a sun day policy.
For starters, many colleges already exercise some form of this idea. Institutions such as Williams College and Smith College celebrate what they call “Mountain Day.” While this occurs during the fall semester, Mountain Day serves as both an exciting tradition and a positive and spontaneous break from classes. According to Williams College, Mountain Day is observed “on a suitable October Friday,” in which the President of the university declares that the weather is simply too nice to allow students to be stuck inside. Instead, students are awoken by campus bells and spend the day hiking, biking, rock climbing and many other traditions characteristic to Mountain Days of the past — dating back to the early 1800s!
While UConn absolutely has the resources of nature required for such an event — 2,100 acres of forest and numerous lawns to sprawl out on — the Mountain Day I envision would be better suited in the spring.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard peers say something along the lines of, “Once it hits 80 degrees, my semester is over.” Descriptively, this phrase definitely holds some truth. Just yesterday, the Student Union Lawn hosted a few hundred students tanning, reading, playing catch and absorbing rays of sun. Were they all skipping classes? Who knows. Was I? No comment. My point: students should prioritize their basic needs, and that includes a day off on a sunny day to recharge.
What would make this even more healing, however, is the alleviation of guilt students feel when deciding between skipping classes and spending time outdoors. If students were able to wake up on any given day in April or May with an empty calendar and breezy, 80-degree weather, I think we’d exist as a much happier student body, even if only for a day.
Plus, what’s there to lose? It’s not like UConn does a stunning job at providing comprehensive mental health services for its students, nor does the administration have a great track record when it comes to making students happy. Maybe a day off will make students forget about the university’s — gee, let’s see —bloated police unit, disingenuous climate action, inflating student fees and deep ties to the military-industrial complex and apartheid states — just to name a few.
The university has the opportunity to get students on its good side — again, for a day at least — by granting them a free day to bask in the sun. Most professors at this point in the semester have transitioned to reviewing for final exams, and I’d like to think that a warm mental health day would serve to benefit the student body a lot more than reviewing vocabulary terms I’ll put on a flashcard and forget about until my post-graduation academic bonfire of all my school supplies.