Photo by Olivia Ross
By Mary Kate Shepperd, Staff Writer—
In the midst of a global pandemic, administration at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga are doing everything in their power to ensure the physical health of students, faculty, and staff. One their precautions was the removal of a spring break in 2021.
Under normal circumstances, UTC‘s spring break would have occurred in March, but this year the scheduled week-long break was canceled.
According to UTC’s website, the removal of spring break came as a consequence of compressing the instructional days on the semester’s calendar. This shortens the time students spend on campus and in potentially dangerous contact with one another. Students get a shorter, safer semester in exchange for less rest time.
Another reason for the removal was to eliminate potential COVID-19 exposure from students traveling. While UTC administration held students’ physical well-being as a top priority in this decision, some feel mental health was left by the wayside along the way.
In fact, a popular opinion around campus is that spring break was an essential mental reprieve from the strenuous academic focus that students maintain during school.
History major Sophie Barton is a senior at UTC.
“I did not realize the positive effects spring break has on me until it was taken away,” she said. “I am really struggling getting through this last semester. I have no motivation to turn anything in, to take care of myself, or to do things I enjoy.”
Barton is not alone with this opinion, either.
Ali Frost is a sophomore with a major in biology.
“Not having a mental break at all throughout the semester is giving me major burnout issues,” Frost said. “Plus, having the break gives some time to catch up on studying for things I didn’t understand before in a stress free environment.”
Despite the administration’s concerns for student safety, many students are feeling the mental and physical consequences of not having a break, especially when midterms contribute additional stress.
While many students understand the administrative decision, few feel it has been good for them.
Senior Josh Boshers is a business major.
“Not having a spring break can give us more time to focus and get things organized, but it could potentially wear us out and cause us to neglect our physical and mental health,” he said.
Regardless of the decision made by UTC administration, several students have taken matters into their own hands and vacationed anyway.
Freshman Abbey Bickers is a pre-professional biology major.
“I know the school thinks it is keeping kids safe and not allowing Covid to spread, but I know many people who took their own spring breaks regardless if the school gave one,” Brickers said.
The general consensus shows that students are in desperate need of a break from the mental effort they maintain throughout the semester. While UTC’s administration positions the physical health of students as a top priority in their scheduling changes, some feel their mental health has been undermined in the process.