Texas A&M is likely to have a shortened spring break this semester. Many people’s first instinct may be to resent this idea. I don’t blame you. Spring break is a time-honored tradition. How dare they try and take it from us? Don’t they know how stressed we are at that point in the semester? Typically, I’m pretty averse to supporting the university on things with which students don’t seem to agree. Many universities are considering or planning on shortening this holiday and in many of these cases, students have reacted with outrage online. I understand the frustration. Everyone needs a break every once in a while. I had a similar gut reaction, but a shorter spring break may not be so bad after thinking it through.
I’m sure everyone remembers last semester’s spring break when the pandemic suddenly gifted us an extra 10 days. It was such an unprecedented action that it felt like the world had to be on fire. It was especially causing chaos for the professors and creating uncertainty about how and when the academic year would continue.
Life has always spiked spring break throughout my college experience with a little bit of dread and anxiety. The holiday happens to fall on the week when many classes would be having their third exam of the semester. To accommodate, some courses must have their exam a week early, giving less time for students to study. Others have their exams the week immediately following the break, leaving many students thinking on Sunday, “Crap! I forgot to study for my test tomorrow!” Any extended period with no classes has always completely wiped my mind of any academic knowledge. Afterward, I don’t know if I’d trust myself to take a spelling test, let alone try to struggle through college chemistry or calculus. These major exams right after a week of relaxation have always felt like a pop quiz to me.
Not to mention, the talk of the town, the thing on everyone’s minds: the coronavirus. Who knows what the pandemic situation will look like by March. We may have it mostly figured out, with fewer positive cases and easing quarantine restrictions. But the last thing we would need is another explosion of cases to propel us back to the same point we were at last year. There’s no sense in dealing with COVID-19 any longer than we have to. A shorter spring break means less time for partygoers in Florida and the Gulf Coast to contract and spread the virus.
Now this spring break, we should all want to drink Corona, not catch it. All bad one-liners aside, A&M’s timing has always felt off. Early to mid-March has always been a terrible time for a vacation. More often than not, I’ve had to cancel plans or stay inside due to the chilly, wet weather. The first official day of Spring, March 20, doesn't come until a week after the end of our spring break, March 13. The average high is in the low 70s, with an average low in the 50s. How much fun and sun can we get with that? It still sounds to me like sweater weather.
There have been no specific plans announced yet, but a shortened spring break may even give us more options. From my experience, when they shorten or elongate part of the school year, they usually just make up the days somewhere else. Perhaps we can get an early summer or more holidays off? During a global pandemic, things were bound to get shuffled around. But it might just be a chance for things to get moved in a better direction. No one likes change, but sometimes it takes living through it to see it’s not so bad after all.
Zach Freeman is an anthropology junior and opinion writer for The Battalion.