Students were encouraged to shut their laptops, put away their books and take a break from classes Tuesday during IU’s first Wellness Day of the semester.
But three IU students said professors assigned work or had them watch recorded lectures to make up for the time lost due to the Wellness Day, eliminating any potential mental health benefits that would have come from the day off. The implementation of Wellness Days came after students expressed the difficulties of not having breaks during the fall semester, according to a December statement from Provost Lauren Robel.
In December, Robel announced in an email sent to students that IU would implement three Wellness Days. However, deans and faculty members were told they needed to add extra work or additional class time to accommodate time lost due to Wellness Days, according to a memo. The memo was not sent to students.
According to the memo, 15-week courses would be given additional opportunities to meet throughout the semester and 13-week classes would have 5 minutes added to each class meeting time to ensure they met the required 110 minutes of U.S. accreditation standards. Accreditation ensures the coursework meets standards for public education.
IU junior Mark Ribaudo said he spent his Wellness Day finishing extra work assigned in place of his regular Tuesday class.
“It didn’t necessarily feel like a Wellness Day with all the work I had to do as a result of it,” Ribaudo said.
While he was able to sleep in later than usual, Ribaudo said his day still included the extra assignments and a meeting to discuss plans for an upcoming class project.
IU sophomore Alanna Wu’s emergency medical technician class typically has live lectures during a three-hour time block on Tuesdays.
She said her professor told her class last week the Tuesday lecture would be canceled due to the Wellness Day. However, the professor said another section’s lecture would be recorded and posted for Tuesday section students to watch. Wu said her class was expected to learn the missed information on their own time.
Wu said she has a busy schedule and wasn’t sure when she would be able to fit in the additional lecture she needs to watch.
“It’s kind of frustrating because I had planned to have that three-hour trek on Tuesday,” Wu said. “It’s hard for me to figure when I can actually sit down and watch a lecture that long.”
IU graduate student Lauren Williams said she thinks a spring break or a day closer to the weekend would have been more helpful for students' mental health, but she understands why IU made its decision.
“When it’s in the middle of the week, it kind of throws off my schedule,” Williams said. “But there’s a part of me that’s like, well I need that day to recharge."
Williams said three of her four classes this semester are asynchronous, so she created a weekly schedule for when she will watch asynchronous lectures.
“I know if I don’t put it in my calendar, it’s not going to get done,” Williams said.
While this has given her some sense of structure, she said it is hard to take a break during the middle of the week when she already feels her classes are moving at such a quick pace.
“Instead of self-care, I shoveled snow, did my lectures and homework for Wednesday classes,” Williams said. “If I said I’m going to spend time on myself, then I would have to do two lectures on Thursday, and I didn’t want to have more stress on that day.”