The cost of no spring break

Students face burnout in light of administration’s decision to cancel spring break

Grace Schutte

More stories from Grace Schutte

May 10, 2023

Photo by Grace Schutte

Students grapple with the administration’s decision to cancel spring break despite attempts to encourage self-care.

Provost Patricia Kleine informed students of the cancellation of spring break for the upcoming spring semester on Dec. 3. Four months later, students are grappling with the administration’s decision.

“While we appreciate the value of rest, relaxation and the learning opportunities that are hallmarks of spring break, sending thousands of Blugolds off for a full week to travel is simply not wise given the widespread outbreak of the (COVID-19) virus,” Kleine said at the end of the fall semester. 

Students like Max Chitwood, a second-year computer science student, understand the importance of not travelling during these times, but do not think this was the best way for the administration to handle the situation. 

“My opinions on spring break are torn because I understand the university’s want to keep people from going to Florida and getting the virus and coming back here,” Chitwood said, “but at the same time, they’ve screwed over people who would’ve just relaxed in their dorms.” 

Chitwood felt that sentiment was only amplified when the administration sent out a second email on Feb. 15, reminding students to “take a break” in case anyone was feeling “overwhelmed or just plain tired.” 

In the weeks since then, students like Zoe Thompson, a second-year public relations student, have taken to the UWEC Memes for Trend-Setting Teens Facebook group to point out the hypocrisy of the email, considering the administration’s move to cancel spring break. 

“As someone who has been extremely cautious, I was not intending on using my time during spring break to vacation — I was going to relax and allow the burnout to fade,” Thompson said.

Burnout, a phrase commonly referred to in the UWEC Memes group, has become increasingly popular in recent weeks. 

According to Mayo Clinic, burnout is “a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” 

For some, burnout presents itself as anxiety — such is the case for Chitwood. For Thompson, burnout consists of a complete lack of motivation. Both said that spring break would help to dispel these symptoms. 

A particularly frustrating aspect for Thompson is that some students will ignore the administration’s decision regardless, she said. 

“Those students who are okay with traveling right now are going to break those regulations anyway — they’re going to find a way to travel if they want to,” Thompson said. 

Despite this, Chitwood and Thompson said they recognize the importance of being cautious and not traveling, even with the increase in vaccinations across the nation. 

To help cope and attempt to push through their burnout, Chitwood has taken to meditation. 

“There’s not much I can do about it, so I’ve started practicing meditation. For me, it’s really effective for managing stress,” Chitwood said. 

She became interested in it after a teacher from her High School introduced it to her. 

“It’s important to find those little moments throughout the day to take some time for yourself,” Thompson said. “I’ve been doing yoga, and that’s my time to recollect my thoughts and focus on self-care.” 

In light of the current events in Florida, with thousands of college-aged students traveling across the nation for the beaches in tangent with the state’s recently lightened COVID-19 regulations, canceling spring break is understandable to Chitwood and Thompson. 

However, this does not mitigate the stress UW-Eau Claire students face as they enter week seven of the semester. 

Thompson said she would like to encourage the administration to listen to the students and attempt to find a compromise. 

Schutte can be reached at [email protected].