A new proposal from the University’s Calendar Committee would add four days of break to the spring semester. Formed in the wake of a suicide cluster in spring 2010, this committee and its proposal seek to lower student stress levels at Cornell. Their proposed calendar, which would add a two-day break in February and extend spring break into April, is necessary and well reasoned. This revised calendar, if adopted, would be a welcome step toward institutional change at Cornell to address student concerns.
As the University calendar now stands, there is only one break in all of spring semester. This break, as scheduled through 2016, will always fall directly in the middle of March, leaving large stretches of unbroken work weeks on either side of it. This stands in contrast to Cornell’s fall semester, which has at least one day off in every month. This system breaks up the schoolwork and stress of the semester, and allows for students to take time off for themselves during the academic year. Currently, the spring semester lacks these consistent breaks, but the committee’s proposal should remedy that.
This proposal should be seen as an element of a larger initiative on Cornell’s part to address student stress levels. Cornell’s culture has shifted over the past two years to become a place where discussion and acknowledgement of mental health needs are more open. The University’s commitment to reducing student stress has been proven through a tonal change that has permeated the student body, but this proposal is a welcome move that could affect campus past just increased dialogue. This is an active step that will change the structure and flow of the University year to address student wants and needs.
Although it does seek to change the current University structure, this specific initiative should be successful in the long-term because it is focused. The committee’s calendar proposal targets a concrete problem. It does not ask for a decrease in Cornell’s workload, or anything else to address the University’s rigorous, but rewarding, academic standard. What it presents is thoughtful, and both addresses what would be best for the student body and doesn’t compromise the quality of a Cornell education.