With winter break quickly approaching, students expressed mixed opinions on Penn State’s decision to extend the break by a week until Jan. 19.
The decision was made by university officials in tandem with their decision to eliminate spring break in the spring 2021 semester.
Students like Conor Barber and Brian Sebring aren’t happy with the university’s decision.
“When it comes to spring break going away and winter break extending for a week, I don’t really love the trade off,” Barber (senior-mechanical engineering) said. “I think that week in between in the middle of the semester is really nice to give yourself a mental break.”
For Barber, having 15 weeks without a break followed by a week of finals is something he believes will be damaging to students and their mental health.
Penn State will include five “wellness days” throughout the spring semester to make up for the cancellation of spring break.
Sebring (freshman-political science) echoed Barber’s sentiments.
“I don’t think it was in the best interest of the students,” Sebring said.
Sebring also raised concerns about students returning home from winter break to complete their studies.
“A lot of kids are going to be at home. Their home life might not be that great,” Sebring said. “A lot of the students have mental health resources and other campus health resources available to them there that they might not have available to them at home.”
The extended winter break will have a greater effect on freshmen and those who live on campus, according to both Sebring and Emily Kramer.
“I think it can be a little hard,” Kramer (senior-special education) said. “I’m sure for freshmen and people who live on campus, it’s going to be a really long time to be at home and away from all the friends that they just made.”
Other students like Sam Biederwolf expressed content with the decision.
“I’m not that upset about it or anything,” Biederwolf (sophomore-biomedical engineering) said. “I’m pretty excited about it.”
Biederwolf said she plans to visit friends in her hometown over break, and said the break would be a good opportunity for students to recuperate and be with loved ones after moving out from school.
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Seeing the policies enacted by other schools also influenced Biederwolf’s opinion.
“I’ve always felt that our break was a lot shorter than all of my other friends who went to different schools anyway,” Biederwolf said. “I don’t think that it’s going to be an issue for us.”
Andrew Wolfram agreed with Biederwolf.
“Longer breaks are common to students; they’ve always had summer and they’re always able to come back and do work then,” Wolfram (graduate-organic chemistry). “Having been both a student and a TA, student performance is better in the fall semester, so a long break before a semester tends to help those students.”
Despite the controversy, students like Eric Larson, Emma Car, Kramer and Wolfram agreed that the university’s decision will benefit student and faculty health in the long run.
“I think it’s important that the university [is] erring on the side of caution,” Larson (senior-industrial engineering) said. “I think it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially with what’s going on.”
For Carr (senior-advertising and public relations), her studies in public relations played a large role in her opinion of the university’s decision.
“From a PR standpoint, I know it looks good for the university to try to look like they’re mitigating, and they are mitigating,” Carr said.