It was announced on Oct. 16 that five wellness days spread throughout the semester will replace a full week of spring break in the spring semester. Some VSU students are not happy with the changes and have chosen to speak up about it.
In response, a petition has been made by VSU students that asks VSU administration and The Board of Regents to reinstate spring break at all USG colleges, including VSU.
Dr. Vince Miller, vice president of student affairs said that the decision to cancel spring break was made with the guidance of SGA to ensure student safety and minimize COVID-19 risks considering the increase in campus activity around Spring Break.
“I admit the college experience is different than we all desire or have been used to, but we have also benefited from relatively low number of positive cases in our campus community,” he said. “It’s always difficult to make and manage these types of changes but we have a task force in place that reviews and discusses how our campus continues to respond during this pandemic and makes the best possible decisions given all public health factors.”
Dr. Miller also said that VSU is not the first university to make big changes to spring break. University of Kentucky, Boston University and The University of Georgia are just some of the other colleges that have announced its spring break being canceled.
Aislinn Campbell, is one of the many students frustrated with the spring break decision and decided to create the petition fighting for spring break to be reinstated at all Georgia colleges.
“I started this petition so that the students of VSU have a chance for their voices to be heard on this issue,” she said. “The SGA supported the decision to cancel Spring Break, but they never asked the students, who they are supposed to represent, how it would impact us. We have been misrepresented and change will not happen unless we speak up.”
Within the past seven days, Campbell’s petition has received 1,518 signatures and over 100 comments from other VSU students. Campbell chose to include other USG colleges in her petition because she realizes other colleges don’t even have the wellness day alternative.
“When I started this petition, it was just about VSU, but we are now reaching higher than that. We are contacting the Board of Regents and actively searching for ways to involve USG colleges,” she said. “This is about every student in Georgia that has been negatively affected by the pandemic and the decision to cancel Spring Break. Many universities are not getting a replacement at all and have stricter policies to begin with.”
Campbell also said spring break is important mainly because of its significance in students’ mental health, especially during the current pandemic, which is why she’s fighting so hard to get it back.
“It is important for everyone to see their families since it is the only break in the spring semester, she said. Spring Break is also a necessary mental break from the stress that cannot be replaced by “wellness” days scattered throughout the semester.These wellness days do not allow time for students to return home (specifically the ones who live long distances away), nor do they allow for true recuperation since most of the days lie in the middle of a normal school week. Additionally, these days are inconsistent and hypocritical. Therefore, wellness days have no positive effect on mental health whatsoever.
Spring break is often associated with students partying and spending time on the beach, but Campbell wants VSU administration and the Board of Regents to look past that and consider every students’ situation when it comes to how they spend their spring break.
“This is not a week to party as some may think, but a week to recuperate. The comments on the petition speak volumes on how necessary this is for all students, but a particular story stood out to me,” she said. “One student had a death in the family and has plans to bury and memorialize their family member during spring break, but it is now impossible for her to be with her family during that time. There are dozens of other testimonies that continue to be an encouragement to this cause.”
Emely Montes De Oca, senior interior design major, signed the petition and said that students already leave the campus every weekend to go out of town which can also cause COVID-19 cases to rise on campus.
“It is important to have that full week to de-stress and not worry about classes. This semester was stressful enough especially with VSU taking away the fall Break.” She said. “No I don’t think (having spring break) is safe but at this point, I feel like we have normalized COVID and people don’t take the proper precautions on campus to stay safe.”
Campbell wants her petition to have an impact on how decisions are made for universities across Georgia no matter the end result of her petition.
“In a worst-case scenario, if this petition changes nothing it is equally critical that VSU hears the voices of its students so that in the future they will listen and represent us accurately,” she said. “However, I will take this petition all the way to the USG if necessary. I have asked the Vice President of Academic Affairs (who I have been corresponding with regarding this issue) how many signatures would be required for a change, and I am currently waiting for a reply.”
Written by Lenah Allen, Editor-In-Chief. Photo courtesy of Change.org.