Removing wellness day is ill-advised

Summer Merkle | Cartoonist

We are the generation of college students who have experienced a global pandemic amid a time of extreme political unrest. We’ve gone through enough never-before-seen events to span a lifetime, let alone one year of school. And if that wasn’t enough already, we were just hit with the winter storm Uri, leaving students without power and water for days.

It’s no question, then, that we are unwell.

On Feb. 24, the Office of the Provost released a letter outlining the adjusted academic calendar for make-up instruction after the storm, including the removal of the previously championed “wellness day” that was to take place on March 9. This single day of no classes was set to act as a break in a semester where all other days off were removed to make up for the pandemic-driven extended winter break.

It’s hard enough to go an entire semester with only one day off — there’s a reason that’s never been done before. But now we don’t even have that.

For those arguing that the four days off during the storm stood as a replacement “spring break” or a “Dia Del ‘Snow’so,” it is unfair to say that. While plenty of students had fun in the snow, plenty of others spent days without electricity and dealt with damage from burst pipes. The students who lost their homes or had to evacuate to emergency shelters didn’t get to count that week as a restful break.

As for the academic side of missed class days, it wasn’t until Wednesday of the following week that Baylor finally announced the plan to add on school days to the semester calendar. This meant that Monday and Tuesday were spent by many students making up a week’s worth of work, because their professors were not informed to spread out the workload until it was too late.

So now not only is there no break, but a study day before finals has been removed, and for what? A lot of the work that should have been done during those days was already piled onto student’s plates, giving them even more need for a day off.

At the very least, it seems like the school that has done so much to emphasize the importance of mental health and wellness over the past year is going back on its word. The pure irony of naming a day off as “wellness day” and then taking it away is enough to spread the message that our wellbeing is not a priority. This semester has been exhausting for so many reasons, and Baylor’s decision to take away the one day we had off is truly a disappointment.