Keith Negley / The New York Times

With no spring break this semester, students are in need of days off.

March 3, 2021

Nixed Spring Break Sparks Student Ambivalence

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With this year being one of the few academic years without a spring break in Cornell’s history, the news has elicited mixed emotions from students of all classes. 

The spring semester calendar released in November 2020 includes two sets of “wellness days” that will replace the week-long spring break that is standard, leaving seniors without their traditional last hoorah.

“Since it’s my last one, it’s brutal because I’ve never actually taken a spring break,” said Zenzo Beresford ’21. “Everybody talks about college kids on spring break, so it feels pretty unfortunate.”

The wellness days scattered throughout the semester serve as a short break for students to relax, catch up on work and spend time outside or with their friends. Beresford said he appreciated the wellness days, suggesting that it will allow students to relax and give them a  chance to catch up on work — something not afforded in the fall.

Natalie Pawlowski ’21, who was planning a trip with her friends for spring break, said she has found it difficult to reschedule her plans since they are all graduating.

“We’ve discussed postponing the trip after everything settles down and it’s safe to travel,” said Pawlowski. “However, after we graduate and start our professional careers, it’s difficult to say if we’ll be able to find the time to do that.”

Despite the opportunity to catch up on work, some students said they worried their wellness days would be consumed with schoolwork. 

“It would have been a lot better for my mental health if we had a normal break, considering that this is probably one of the most difficult semesters that I’ve had to deal with since being here,” said Madeline Hanscom ’22.

Pawlowski said she believes the wellness days were “absolutely necessary,” but they don’t entirely serve the purpose that the name suggests. As a resident adviser in Clara Dickson Hall, Pawlowski has witnessed her first-year residents feeling overwhelmed and stressed just two weeks into the semester. 

“The residents I’ve been speaking to already expressed being overwhelmed with schoolwork, the lounges were already overflowing and students were staying up until very late hours, 2 a.m. to work,” Pawlowski said.  

Though wellness days are far from the typical “spring break” most are accustomed to, some students found one silver lining in this semester’s schedule, including limited travel in a pandemic. 

Apart from keeping campus safe and relieving student concerns about COVID, eliminating a spring break also prevents students from being left out of trips.

Because of financial and scheduling concerns, Beresford said spring break can leave many students feeling excluded when they have to stay in Ithaca for reasons out of their control. 

“The good part is that a lot of people would be here in Ithaca anyways, and now no one is going to be left out,” Beresford said.