The spring break that wasn’t

Photo courtesy Roberto Nickson

Spring break is an undeniable staple of college culture. It’s a time to travel, explore, party and most importantly, rest.

If this year has taught college students anything, it’s that education does not cease for a global disaster. But must it continue to the point of exhaustion? To the point of damaged souls?

Colleges have been offering virtual courses for a full year and it has not been easy on anyone. Instructors are having difficulties connecting with students and students are having difficulties with motivation. We are all working toward a grade instead of learning. The feeling of hopelessness is amplified by the ongoing lack of interaction. At least for those who are socially distancing. Students have been grinding all year, only to be rewarded with no traditional break in March. More specifically, no spring break.

The consensus on canceling spring break varies by the university, but a vast majority have chosen to do so. The logic behind the decision is sound: universities want to contain the ubiquitous virus and its spread. High amounts of travel occur during spring break, with Florida serving as a prominent destination for young adults from the Midwest to the Northeast.

Educators are trying to keep their students safe from situations like what took place last month in Miami, where large crowds of people gathered mask-less and stayed out far past the 8 p.m. curfew wreaking havoc. Again the logic beyond the cancellation is acceptable but the decision is more complex than realized.

With students experiencing severe burnout, they need time to rest, recalibrate and reset. However, there is a cognitive dissonance present in the student body.

Some students are choosing to participate in large parties, nightclubs and going out to restaurants while others are trying to remain safe inside their apartments and dorms.

In the university’s attempt at keeping students safe, it is also unwittingly punishing students by not allowing a break. Some students use the break to catch up on sleep, visit family or catch up on work. But because the university cannot regulate how students spend their spring break, it simply took it away. Yet while cancelling spring break, FAMU will be holding an in-person graduation.

Do you want more to consider? It seems FAMU administrators are acutely aware of the toll this semester without spring break has taken on students. Now it has decided that this Thursday will be a “mental health day.” Really?

The university seems to be confused in its own stance on safety. Regardless, if students are let out a week early or not,  we need a break. Period. And one day before the last day of classes doesn’t cut it.