Annie Deitz, Campus Carrier managing editor
Last week, the President’s Office announced the official schedule for spring semester. Under this schedule, classes will begin on Tuesday Jan. 19 and end on April 27, with finals taking place the following week. Like many schools around the country, Berry has decided to cancel spring break to avoid travel and increased rates of COVID-19 on campus. Instead, Berry will have one day off on Mar. 10, as well as canceled classes on April 13 for Symposium on Student Scholarship.
I can’t really imagine how difficult it must be to plan out a full schedule for a college this far in advance, to foresee the future of the ongoing pandemic and create a scenario that will allow students to continue to live on campus safely and healthily. I appreciate the work that Berry has done thus far to allow us to remain on campus as well, many of my friends who go to school elsewhere have not had that same privilege.
However, this semester has been the most awful, the most exhausting, the most stressful semester of my entire life. This even includes the semesters I had in middle school. Which is saying something. Because middle school sucks.
Some of that can’t be avoided, simply existing in the world right now is terribly tiring. But most of it is the draining nature of Berry this semester. I have genuinely been burnt out since the second week of classes. The horrible combination of having a shortened semester, where professors, work supervisors, and student organizations end up having to condense the same amount of work and material into less time, alongside the cancellation of fall break, has not worked.
The one day classes were cancelled this semester was monumentally helpful. I was able to catch my breath for the first time so far this year. But it wasn’t enough. I needed that break sooner, and I need another one of those breaks now.
I understand that having a spring break is not a good idea. For some reason, some of my peers are still going out to bars and restaurants on the weekends, traveling out of Floyd County and even stupidly refusing to wear their masks over their nose. I do not at all trust them to safely celebrate spring break, I know if given the opportunity too many Berry students would go on a cruise, or party at the beach, or travel, against safety recommendations and come back to put all Berry community members in danger. I appreciate Berry for making a schedule that does not make all of my free time spent in my dorm room since the semester started to avoid COVID-19 in vain.
But I can’t do it. One day off is insufficient. To be candid about my mental health, since we got back to campus, my anxiety and my depression have gotten severely worse, and I’ve developed a panic disorder. I know most of the student body is having similarly severe mental health issues. That’s due to this semester.
I love Berry, and I generally enjoy everything I do here. This summer, I was so excited for my senior year and started dreading graduation and having to leave my friends, professors, and all of the good parts about Berry behind. I don’t anymore. I constantly find myself counting down the days until graduation. When I saw the email about the spring schedule, I started crying. I wanted to start feeling hopeful and happy about my time at Berry again, but I knew without any breaks that wasn’t going to happen.
Berry students can’t keep going like this. To expect them to do this is unfair when this semester has clearly taken a massive toll on our mental health. We can’t learn if we are constantly burnt out and miserable. Please, give us another day free from classes next semester. We deserve some time off.