An ode to the Undergraduate day off

It is obviously very valuable to have a motivated student body, but it is more valuable to have a happy student body.

Ana Dorta

When students received the email from President Dudley with the subject, “Undergraduate Student Day Off,” on Oct. 15, there was an audible sigh of relief throughout campus. After eight weeks of endless workload and little-to-no time to relax, students spent the whole day before hoping that the rumors were true.

The excitement about the day off was apparent. Dorms and residences buzzed with talk of what to do with the abnormally-free Friday.

People packed their bags and headed off for a weekend on the nearby Appalachian Trail, others formulated plans about restaurants to visit, and some took advantage of the extra time to catch up on work or sleep. For a day, the stress about upcoming tests, the rather grim campus atmosphere regarding COVID-19 and the feeling of isolation all dissipated.

I personally took the free day as an opportunity to be a bit lazy. I slept in later than I had in weeks, chatted with friends on the porch of Hillel for hours and got the opportunity to spend time with some people I hadn’t seen as much as I hoped.

I woke up rested and excited to make the day mine.

I was able to do things that I truly enjoy with the people who make me happiest. I couldn’t recall another day since my arrival at school that I felt quite that relaxed and excited.

Even after the day had ended and real life resumed, I felt refreshed. The looming week of exams, papers and activities no longer seemed that daunting. I think many people had a similar experience.

As college students, we’re pushed to discover ourselves while being drowned in obligations and expectations. There’s immeasurable value in having a few days to relax and decompress — and more importantly, to spend time with the people we care about.

Without the normal break in the semester for reading days, it seemed as if our obligations and expectations never ended. There was truly no opportunity to step back and take a deep breath.

How are we to discover ourselves if we’re not given the opportunity to do things for ourselves?

The current situation on campus is obviously less than ideal, and many students have expressed feeling very isolated. Confined to their residences and without the opportunity to take classes in-person, days pass without a normal amount of human interaction.

It is obviously very valuable to have a motivated student body, but it is more valuable to have a happy student body. More relaxed days give students the opportunity to decompress and do things that make them happy. Even if some opt to continue doing work, at least that’s their personal decision.

I think the student body would certainly support future days off, and I think that this should seriously be considered by the administration — especially for the upcoming semester. Without a February break, students will similarly be vying for a day to explore the community we call home.

Until then, we will wait patiently for the next email with the subject, “Undergraduate Student Day Off.”