Give us a break: Fall break would combat burnout, exhaustion

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Photo Credit: Sally Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

Tomorrow will be the first time University of Texas students have had a break in over 12 weeks. Since Labor Day, students have faced a nonstop onslaught of classes and work commitments that have drained them into exhaustion.

To avoid student burnout, UT should give students a fall break the Thursday and Friday before Texas-OU weekend. 

In order for UT to consider instituting a two-day fall break, those two days would have to be made up somewhere else. In 2013, faculty members proposed and voted against instituting a fall break on the Monday and Tuesday of the ninth week of the fall semester by moving the fall semester’s start date from Wednesday to Monday. 

Moving up the start of the semester has been an extremely popular solution suggested in conversations regarding the creation of a fall break. However, this idea might be one of the reasons why a fall break never actually gets past conversation.

Mark Simpson, assistant vice provost for Enrollment Management and University Registrar, said there are a variety of reasons why UT begins on a Wednesday. According to Simpson, starting two days sooner could cause complications. 

“A lot of it has to do with job availability since a lot of students have to work during the summer, apartment and room utilization on campus, timing when high school ends and college starts … orientation … even factors of weather,” Simpson said. 

To avoid these types of complications, UT should instead eliminate Labor Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day as student holidays and move those breaks to the Thursday and Friday before Texas-OU weekend. 

This year, Labor Day was only five days after the first day of class. A break would be much more beneficial to students halfway through the semester as opposed to three days after syllabus week. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the Monday before Spring semester begins. Instead of extending what is already a monthlong winter break, UT should use that extra day to institute a fall break. A break is not a break if students are already well-rested. 

Another reason why the 2013 amendments failed to pass was due to backlash from the College of Natural Sciences and Cockrell School of Engineering over lab time schedules. Many faculty members felt a fall break would interrupt the amount of time required for lab setup procedures, which would put an additional burden on the students and harm their education. 

However, instead of harming a students’ education, a break might actually be beneficial to their academic performance. The proposed break would fall before Red River Showdown and one of the two Austin City Limits weekends, which both leave many students exhausted without much time for studying or homework.

“A fall break is a really important conversation for our students because it has to do with learning,” Simpson said. “It is really helpful for students at times to have a break to know they can take a couple days down time before they ramp up for something else.”

UT should care more about the quality of lab time rather than the quantity. By allowing students a break before one of the biggest weekends of the fall semester, UT is giving students time to both academically and mentally prepare for their classes the following week. 

Additionally, a fall break earlier in the semester would help prevent student burnout. Business honors sophomore Kaci Nguyen said without a student holiday to break up the excessive workload of this semester, she’s been overwhelmed into exhaustion.   

“I would love a fall break just to allow my breath to catch up to me,” Nguyen said. “I know a bunch of other schools have them … I really wish (UT) had one so I can have my own break from all the stuff that’s going on.”

The University of Texas is one of the top educational institutions in the world, but educational prowess means nothing if students are too mentally exhausted to demonstrate all the knowledge they have accumulated throughout the semester. A fall break, specifically the Thursday and Friday before Texas-OU weekend, would give students a much needed reprieve from the immense strain of college.

Lopez is a rhetoric and writing sophomore from Nederland, Texas.