We Didn't Start the Fire
We’re burnt out, but for once, it wasn’t us who started the fire. Often, we complain about our classes simply because we’re all busy and tired and don’t want to do work. But this semester has felt especially dragged out, because the college decided that it would be wise to put off spring break until after Easter.
We don’t have access to numbers on class attendance, but the lack thereof has been noticeable even without numbers. It’s a matter of efficiency. We’re so tired that we might as well not have classes. Most schools had a week off before or after St. Patrick’s Day weekend, but not Canisius.
Granted, we at The Griffin were off in San Francisco during one of those weeks, so we kind of had a half-week’s break (though we certainly had less sleep than even a normal college week). But even while there, the editors at this conference were missing classes that still were taking place, so the lack of a break was still felt. Many staff members had to bring their laptops and schoolwork with them to complete during the various rest periods — making them anything but. Meeting deadlines based on East Coast time is not an easy feat when three hours ahead on the other side of the country. An assignment due at 11:59 p.m. in the Canisius library must be turned in by 8:59 p.m. at the hotel in California.
Members of The Griffin are in consensus that the past couple of weeks have been some of the hardest of our time in college. There’s been more work, and the lack of a break has really gotten to them. Some are at the point where they are so physically and mentally exhausted from the push of going for 11 weeks with no respite that it’s caused missed classes because of being so stressed that they can’t properly focus in class.
Without placing blame on any individual, it feels like the students were not thought of at all during this calendar planning. Not only do we have to go 11, almost 12, weeks with no break, but after we come back it’s going to be even more hectic because it’s coming up on final exam season. Even with those two days off in February, they can’t be counted as days off because while there weren’t classes, a lot of professors still assigned work. We can’t say the same for everyone on campus, but a lot of us on The Griffin are extremely burnt out and are not sure how to make it through final exam season well, given our point of exhaustion. Completing assignments takes every ounce of energy to complete. Spring break is not a want at this point: it’s a need.
We weren’t there when the academic calendar was created, and President Stoute probably wasn’t either, since they’re created a year in advance. Maybe it was made in the midst of COVID, when one two-week break was preferred to multiple one-week breaks. Other schools didn’t make the same calculation, though, so clearly it wasn’t necessary and has quite possibly done more harm to students than what could have occurred regarding the pandemic’s effects on returning from breaks.
Speaking of, next year’s academic calendar has already been created, and the spring semester once again rolls Easter break into spring break, albeit a week earlier (March 27) than this year (April 5). We get that we’re a religious college and are tied to Easter as our main break, but it’d be better to have the half-week Easter break split from the one-week Easter break. Since the President’s Day holiday provides a respite in February, and we’re required to have one during Easter — which takes place in 2024 towards the end of March — a break in the middle of April would be nice. Not just nice, but effective in minimizing burn-out amongst Canisius students.
The issue of poorly timed breaks was brought up at this week’s senate meeting. The senate hoped that the popular COVID “cura personalis days” will be readded to the academic calendar for next academic year. USA President Jahare Hudson said he is pushing for that, and he even said that he wants direct involvement for students in the creation of the academic calendar in the future.
We know it’s not the biggest deal, but it also isn’t an astronomical request to have it fixed. A bit more planning or communication with those spending 40 hours a week completing their course loads could have prevented this.