We are amid one of the most dreaded times of the semester—a time in which Lehigh students share a mutual misery—exam season.
A good night’s sleep comes in spades, FML becomes a second home and caffeine intakes reach record highs.
The stress and frustration from all of the work on our plates is only exacerbated by the fact that it all exists online—we have to stare at that glaring blue light from our devices for hours on end. Simply put, it’s emotionally and physically exhausting.
However, this semester Lehigh has taken much more notice to the additional hardships its student body is facing as a result of online school.
In hopes to minimize stress and circumvent additional mental health challenges, Lehigh has instituted what they call “Wellness Week” for the week following midterm exams.
From March 22 to 26, professors have the option to adjust their class schedules so students can “take a step back from the bustle of the semester and focus on personal wellness.”
While it’s great that Lehigh is devoting time for students to take a break from school and focus on their mental health, the plan has its fallbacks.
Professors aren’t required to abide by Wellness Week, nor were they given specific instructions for accommodations.
As a result, some professors have chosen to cancel class, whereas others haven’t acknowledged the week at all. While many have lightened the workload for the week, others have kept large assignments on the syllabus.
By not creating a solidified plan or defined guidelines for professors to follow when planning their syllabi, the amount of “personal time,” students receive, varies across the campus.
Every student is equally entitled to this break, so it shouldn’t be the case that some can reap the benefits of a week designated to it, while others cannot.
Its vagueness almost defeats its purpose, as it will likely cause undue stress onto the students who still have much work to do, seeing their peers relax and enjoy a lighter workload.
Giving time off to students amid a pandemic is a challenge to maneuver, as it opens the option to students to make travel plans despite the school’s COVID-19 protocols.
Perhaps, the school should have required all professors to still hold classes, but significantly lighten the workload. This way students would have the time still to focus on themselves, while allowing Lehigh a better opportunity to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
It is also on the students, however, to recognize that Lehigh is trying to help its student body by giving us this week, and that they shouldn’t take advantage of it and use it to plan spring break trips.
Wellness Week is not intended to be a replacement for spring break, but an opportunity for students to safely decompress from monotonous workloads.
Students living on or off campus who choose to disobey Lehigh’s request to only travel for emergency reasons are putting themselves, their peers and their professors at risk and jeopardize spiking infection rates for the remainder of the semester.
It must not be forgotten that this pandemic isn’t over. Yes, the vaccine rollout is well underway, and national restrictions are beginning to loosen up, but that doesn’t mean we can stop holding ourselves accountable to keep the Lehigh and South Bethlehem communities safe.
It’s been quite the obstacle course of figuring out how to get a college education through a global pandemic, but were almost at the finish line, and we might as well finish out strong.
Use this week to take a step back, take a breath and relax. Be well, but most importantly, stay safe.