Editorial: All gas, no breaks


As college students, we frequently hear the phrase “pace yourself.”

Those two words echo in our heads when we’re continually hearing it from family, friends, professors and peers. It’s the go-to self-motivation phrase when you’re staring at the mirror before a long day ahead.

Pacing ourselves is strenuous with the rambunctious few weeks of midterm exams and papers, which account for large percentages of final grades. Nonetheless, pacing yourself is essential.

Breaks are our saving grace. Alas, here comes Lehigh’s annual Pacing Break. Or should we say, Pacing Day. 

With the onset of the pandemic last year, Pacing Break was removed from the calendar, alongside spring break. These days off were tacked onto the month-long winter break and a “wellness week” during the spring semester.

As we return to a semi-normal academic year, Pacing Break and other breaks throughout the year have made their comeback. However, what makes a “break” a break?

Students are finding themselves swamped with assignments to work on over Pacing Break – many of which are due in the few days that follow. This year, it appears to be a typical weekend plus a single day of no class.

If this is the current situation for the majority of the student body, how does Lehigh define a break? Is this what “pacing ourselves” looks like?

Pacing Break has historically been a four-day weekend, with a Monday and Tuesday off from classes – typically after the second weekend of October.

This year, Pacing Break is only a three-day weekend, with no classes on Monday. Lehigh displaced the fourth day off for Nov. 2, Civic Engagement Day – a day to vote in local or national elections. 

By all means, should Lehigh be encouraging students to exercise their right to vote by canceling class for the entire day (although class wasn’t canceled last year during a crucial presidential election). Yet, cutting a day off of Pacing Break gives students less of an incentive to return home and see family and friends or to travel off-campus to clear their minds. 

With only a single day off, in addition to a normal weekend, students who most likely do not have sufficient time to take a break from their studies are going to burn out. 

Although only an extra day, four days off greatly overshadows a three-day break. 

From the standpoint of our courses, Monday is a day off for students. However, it’s not necessarily a day off from the standpoint of our workload.

Implementing a Pacing Break is paradoxical when students are drowning in work and assignments, all of which are expected to be completed within the following several days. Students shouldn’t have to turn to class-related duties when their university is attempting to inspire relaxation. 

When students have large-scale assignments due the week after breaks or even small assignments due the day following break, they have no choice but to complete it over their days off.

Professors should be accounting for real breaks in their lesson plans and syllabi – whether that be Pacing Break, Thanksgiving break or any of the breaks to come. 

Lehigh has the  power to encourage professors to consider these obstructions of breaks as well.

Half of a semester may not seem very long in the grand scheme of things, yet, for students, it can feel like centuries based on endless workload and limited time to breathe.

We’re burned out and have been since the beginning of the pandemic. Breaks are essential to easing our workload and lending us the necessary “us-time.”

It’s simply not healthy living at this pace; we deserve a break. 

With Pacing Break now in our sight, it’s far too late to decide and make it any less challenging and demanding. 

Lehigh, let’s put the “break” back in Thanksgiving break, spring break and all other breaks to come.

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1 Comment

  1. Robert F. Davenport Jr on

    Oddly this reminds me of classes on rainy Saturdays in smelly South Bethlehem.

    It would seem appropriate to schedule major assignments and tests after “Pacing Break” but I suppose some have a bit of maliciousness in them and it doesn’t end with graduation. It is somewhat like hazing, I got abused so you are going to get to experience the same. Some stuff gets learned that shouldn’t be taught.

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