RIP Spring Break

RIP+Spring+Break

Spring break: while many students use their week-long March vacation to relax and recharge,
others use the opportunity to travel to exotic locations and engage in behavior that is often
perceived as risky. The experience itself has become a symbol of modern American college life.

The concept of spring break began in 1938 with a swim forum event in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
By around 1960, however, students began coming to the town in great numbers, and local
businesses took advantage of this influx by offering specials such as all-you-can-drink beer for
$1.50. Pre-lockdown, students between Florida and Texas spent $1 billion combined during
spring break with many undergrads consuming more than 10 alcoholic drinks per day.

But amid a global pandemic, spring break’s “party-down” tradition is not taken lightly. When
releasing the Spring 2021 Academic Calendar, GC eliminated spring break in its entirety,
“necessary as part of the University’s response to COVID-19.” The student response: generally
agitated, but mixed.

“I can see where GC is coming from,” said Lauryn Parker, senior marketing major. “But at the
same time, having a week off to let us have a break is much needed. Especially as I am a senior, I
won’t get to have my senior year spring break. It’s hard when KSU and GSU get to have one and
we don’t.”

Although the University System of Georgia did not force the state’s public colleges and
universities to dispose of spring break, the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and GC
proceeded in doing so to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Whereas Valdosta State University
allocated “five wellness days” spread throughout the semester, GC set March 8 aside as a
“reading day,” allowing students to catch up on academic work. Additionally, GC’s previous fall
semester allowed students to return home early for an elongated break, stretching out to
mid-January.

“The Executive Cabinet follows very closely the information and guidance offered by health
experts to help prevent the spread of COVID,” said Dr. Dorman. “This decision took into
account the possible impact of travel and movement from place to place, and made adjustments
to the calendar to keep our students, faculty and staff safe during this global pandemic.”
Many students were confused as to why a “reading day” was offered at all. According to Dr.
Dorman, the day is offered so students can take care of personal and individual
commitments.

“What’s to stop students from going on trips on regular weekends or the ridiculous ‘reading day’
they’ve given us,” said Emma Hughes, junior history major. “I understand why a large school like UGA would cancel spring break, but we are drastically smaller. It would have been possible
for us to have a safe spring break with some guidelines.”

“I feel like there are ways to still make spring break happen and return to school safely,” said
Lainey Mitelman, freshman education major. “For example, if we had spring break, when
students arrive back at school they could do all of their classes online for the first two weeks to
ensure everyone stays healthy. Or everyone could even get tested before returning back.”

If COVID-19 never occurred, students conceptualized their perfect spring break: hiking, tanning,
traveling, catching up with friends or family and getting ahead in schoolwork. While some
envision a picturesque possibility, other bobcats highlight students’ and other universities’
disregard for current circumstances.

“It’s insanely daft and selfish of those other schools to not cancel their spring breaks,” said an
anonymous senior sociology major. “Over 2 million people have died worldwide because of this
virus and still counting. If you seriously think one week of time off is more important than
protecting those around you, you’re selfish.”

“While it sucks, I completely agree with the decision to cancel spring break,” said Natalie Mau,
creative writing graduate student. “We’re in the midst of a global pandemic so anything we can
do to mitigate risk is a good idea.”

Mental health and elongated time spent away from family are students’ main concerns over a
cancelled spring break. Although some are still traveling during the dates of GC’s ‘reading day,’
many think their frame of mind needs a week to refresh. Dr. Dorman understands that a
traditional spring break affords faculty, staff and students an opportunity to have a mental break
from the academic routine. The administration is hopeful that extending the winter break helped
students to rest up and get a longer than ordinary break in between semesters. Additionally, GC’s
student mental health services are available to those in need.

“I’m doing my own spring break and taking off days regardless,” said Taylor Salazar, junior
accounting major. “I need a mental break, especially with mostly online classes. I’m going to
Florida during the week of our ‘reading day.’”

“Mental health for many students has rapidly declined. If you want your students to be successful
you need to allow them opportunities to recuperate or relax,” said an anonymous student.
“Otherwise the burnout is going to be monumental. Even professors reported that the lack of fall
break took a toll on their mental health.”

As for the future, bobcats hope for a reintroduction of ‘normal’ spring breaks. Others are
doubtful, advocating for the eradication of spring break until the pandemic is completely gone.
Parties, going downtown and traveling are among the top issues students believe are destroying
future spring break possibilities. For other bobcats, mental health, living life to the fullest and
reconnecting with family and friends combat the threat of spring break cancellation. Dr. Dorman
is optimistic that spring break can be reinstated into the academic calendar just as soon as public
health conditions have improved. However, he is hopeful that students will be willing to
accommodate the cancellation to keep themselves and others healthy.

“We certainly recognize that changes to the way we normally operate may create some personal
inconveniences for some members of our campus community,” Dorman said. “We are also
hopeful that most members of the university community appreciate these measures which are
designed to keep everyone healthy and safe during this pandemic. I know that it is disappointing
not to have a spring break.”