February Break, a University-sanctioned pause that is meant to put a temporary halt to classes and assignments, is a chance for students to decompress and take some time off from their rigorous schedules. However, first-years experiencing the break for the first time found it overtaken by a large workload.
For Erin Laney ’25, the days off presented an opportunity to spend time with family. However, the break’s timing in the middle of prelim exams made relaxation difficult.
“It’s always nice to catch up, eat good food and be back at home again,” Laney said. “However, with homework due on Sunday and Monday and prelims next week, it made it really difficult to truly feel that this was a break.”
While Lauren Kwak ’25 was able to use February Break to visit her family, she similarly expressed that she could not escape her schoolwork.
“Being able to just hang out and not do anything with [my family] was the best part of the break for me,” Kwak said. “However, having homework building up always loomed over my head.”
Unlike Laney and Kwak, Rita Stachurski ’25 remained in Ithaca for February break and said that her choice not to travel allowed her to unwind and relax.
“I was able to sleep in every day without the stress of going to class and having other activities throughout the week,” Stachurski said.
All students, whether traveling with friends, visiting family or remaining in Ithaca to catch up on work, reported enjoying their time off. However, student concerns regarding the over-break workload raised questions on whether the University should impose stricter regulations for instructors assigning work during University-sanctioned time off.
“The amount of work assigned confuses me,” said Chad Rubin ’25. “Why is it called a break when there are assignments due?”
Annie Stewart ’25 said she believes the University’s policies can be adjusted to help benefit the mental wellbeing of students.
“Not having homework due during the break would alleviate a lot of stress,” Stewart said. “Also, having prelims the week after break made it difficult to focus on anything other than studying.”
The University’s current policy regarding work over break strongly discourages instructors from posting assignments for completion over break periods, but it does not prohibit assignments entirely. This stance puts assigning work over break under the complete jurisdiction of course instructors, who abide by the University’s wishes to varying degrees.
“My hope is that the University lightens the workload a little during breaks,” Stewart said. “I think this could really improve the mental health of students.”