OPINION: Rejection of a spring mental wellness day was the wrong call

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After COVID-19 ravaged Manhattan and every other city across the world, university, city and state officials were left to try and pick up the broken pieces for the people they serve and help restore some sort of normal life.

At Kansas State, the Student Governing Association is part of that effort. One of the main ways SGA works to serve students is by prioritizing their mental health in the bills they propose. Physical health is prioritized heavily at this point in time, but sometimes that allows mental health to be shoved to the side.

However, student senators showed they prioritize mental health this semester by unanimously passing a proposal for two spring mental wellness days.

Those days will hopefully give students a longer weekend to potentially spend resting during the break-free spring semester, or maybe safely return home to their parents for a day.

When the proposal reached faculty senate, it was rejected. The reasons given for those vote were two fold.

First, faculty were worried students would return home and contract COVID-19 and bring it back to campus. Also, this day off would take away from limited class time and professors would not be able to fit in as much curriculum as needed.

I found these reasons to be insufficient due to the level of importance I put on the spring mental wellness days. The days are a chance for out of state, or just busy, working students to get to see their family one time over the spring semester. After spring break was canceled, the odds of this opportunity became slim.

As a former out of state student at a different college, I’ve experience overwhelming feelings of homesickness and a desire for a break with familiarity. While this isn’t a time that K-State wants students traveling, the university could still allowed for the day off, and emphasize the importance of safety and list precautions to take if going home.

Also, in the long run, students with breaks are able to fit in more curriculum. Breaks and time for rest help prevent burnout, which most students feel by the end of the school year.

If faculty are worried about students not being able to learn as much, forcing them to work 16 weeks straight is not necessarily going to solve that problem. Many times when students feel burdened or overwhelmed by work it leads to cheating or missed assignments. Giving students a break to reset might take away a single class period, but it could help recharge them in a way that allows them to learn more over the course of the semester.

Student senate continues to collaborate with faculty senate and advocate for mental wellness days, and a joint proposal is in the works. Hopefully it can be one that empathizes with the taxing schedule of being a student away from home.

Anna Schmidt is the Collegian opinions editor and a junior in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and the persons interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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