Early in the morning on March 11, students and faculty woke up to the surprise announcement of a study break day. All in-person and remote classes for undergraduate students were canceled throughout the day.
“This day provides a break from our busy schedules to practice self-care for our mental health and well-being,” said Roger Williams University President Ioannis Miaoulis in the announcement.
The day was full of planned, safely distanced events for students to attend, both virtually and outside in the nice weather. The sport courts were open for games from morning to 1 p.m., as well as the pool in the Campus Recreation Center. In the quad, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., free kettle corn was served and, for dinner, there was an outdoor barbecue with meat and vegetarian options. From 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., there was an Easy to Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation virtual session with Dr. Christopher Bailey that students could participate in.
While this day did provide an opportunity for undergraduate students and faculty to focus on their well-being, it had raised some concern from students and professors alike.
“The element of surprise creates complications for faculty teaching courses that meet once a week, in particular labs with experiments that need ongoing monitoring,” said June Speakman, Professor of Political Science and President of the RWU Faculty Association.
The RWU Faculty Association received a number of concerned emails from colleagues regarding the interruption the study break day will cause in their course plans. The group forwarded these messages to the president and provost. However, there was no doubt among professors that students, faculty and staff have been working hard and deserve a much-needed break.
Speakman mentioned other concerns regarding tests and student presentations that now will have to be rescheduled, as well as guest speakers who have been booked that will now be canceled on short notice. Although, in Miaoulis’ email, it was highlighted that some labs and courses would still occur in order for students to continue working on ongoing research experiments. In addition, students and faculty who take long commutes and/or have early classes may have not known about the surprise announcement and may have missed the opportunity to sleep in.
Hopefully, students were be able to recharge this Thursday and course plans will be able to get right back on schedule.