On Feb. 3, Student Government (SG) had a second reading of the Better Breaks Act in which Senators advocated for faculty and staff to observe and respect wellness days, due to the widespread stress students expressed after they were first announced by Chancellor Randy Woodson on Oct. 22.
During wellness days, faculty are instructed to not schedule tests or deadlines, in an attempt to give students days off from school. However, the days are spread out in order to prevent traveling, which commonly occurs during normal spring breaks, Woodson stated.
Thomas Jackson, a second-year studying horticulture and the corresponding senator for the Better Breaks Act, recognized there was no official policy preventing faculty from scheduling assignments on wellness days. This inspired him to create the Act with other senators last year.
According to Jackson, the Student Senate recently met with the University Graduate Student Association and Provost Warwick Arden attended. Arden told the Student Senate that he asserted to the faculty that they should not be scheduling assignments on wellness days. Jackson also plans to attend the next Faculty Senate meeting and ask the faculty to pass their own legislation regarding this issue.
“I do intend to go and express a lot of desire for the Faculty Senate to have its own standard, that is more clearly expressed rather than just having an administrator telling faculty not to assign work,” Jackson said. “I think it would be better if the faculty came together and made it their own. We’ve definitely heard so many reports from so many students that individual professors have assigned work, and it would be much more impactful for all faculty to come together.”
On Feb. 9, NC State students experienced their first wellness day and had mixed reviews on whether or not their professors honored their day off.
According to Drew Guettler, a first-year studying computer science, he had many professors who assigned work that was due the Wednesday after the wellness day.
“I was less than happy about it,” Guettler said. “I was hoping to have more of a day off, and it was less work than usual, but it was still more than I wanted to do.”
Nicole Shooman, a first-year studying textile design, said the majority of her professors observed the Better Breaks Act and didn’t assign work.
“Most of my professors were good about it,” Shooman said. “Obviously, my asynchronous classes didn’t change because you have months to plan that out. The only issue I had was my design inquiry class, but we reached out to the professor and told her we want to have the wellness day off, and she moved the deadline back three days.”
According to both Shooman and Guettler, a Tuesday was a poor choice for a wellness day.
“Monday or Friday would be better,” Guettler said. “It would give us a long weekend and actual time that we could not do work instead of just throwing a day in the middle of the week.”
Jackson encourages students to be vigilant about wellness days and talk to their professors if they see a conflict with an assignment or exam and a wellness day.
“Definitely make sure you’re looking through syllabi and bringing it up to the faculty first, sending an email, even if it’s an asynchronous class or a class that doesn’t meet face to face,” Jackson said. “It definitely helps students’ cases if they’ve at least made an attempt to express themselves.”