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Did wellness days compensate?: Students evaluate the spring 2021 semester

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Did wellness days compensate?: Burnout stock photo

Burnout was a popular issue for students in the spring 2021 semester. Wellness days sought to alleviate that issue, but its effectiveness is debated. 

Now that spring semester 2021 has come to a close, students and faculty at Oklahoma State University are able to evaluate how wellness days affected them and the university. 

On Dec. 17, 2020, President Burns Hargis released what he anticipated from the spring semester as well as introduced “wellness” days. These days were meant for students to focus on mental health and have time off after finding out spring break was canceled. 

This left many students and faculty members wondering what the spring semester would bring. 

The Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies and professor in Mass Communications, Gina Noble, compared wellness days to spring break and said the two did not match up. 

“I think they were beneficial but not as much as spring break is,” Noble said. 

OSU campus organizations such as Student Affairs and the Department of Wellness planned events for students to participate in. 

According to the Wellness Calendar, events were held such as group fitness classes and intramural lawn games where students could play mini-golf, Spikeball and Cornhole in front of the Colvin Center.

These resources are here to help you live your healthiest life,” according to the Department of Wellness website. 

Sophomore Garrett Meldrum said he loved seeing the activities happening on campus, and it gave him a sense of normalcy again. 

“Noticing the little things going on around campus has given me a better feeling of just the campus being alive again and providing students with that natural college life that is necessary for us students here on campus,” Meldrum said. 

In addition to fitness-based activities, the Department of Wellness hosted events focused on mental health such as “Talk About it Tuesday.”  

“I wish we could’ve helped students more with mental health issues because I heard there were long waits to speak with someone,” Nobel said. 

Some students enjoyed wellness days but didn’t think they accurately compensated for spring break. 

I really enjoyed the wellness days; it was really nice to have a break from school and a day all for myself,” Freshman Emily Youker said. “One thing that I wish OSU did differently is have five wellness days instead of just three.” 

Junior Gavin Stika agreed with Youker and said the five days would have better replaced a spring break. 

Some students still went on a vacation to get away from college, for example, junior Trent Lutze. 

“I still went on a little weekend trip with my buddies, just to get my mind off of school for a bit,” Lutze said.

While wellness days were meant to be “days off” according to Hargis and OSU News, Meldrum said it couldn't happen because it was one day in the middle of the week.

It is also hard to praise the university for coming up with this alternative because it doesn’t even make sense when homework and school are still going on during these days. It is a glorified snow day at its best,” Meldrum said. 

On the other hand, Youker said she felt like wellness days did their job.

I do think that the wellness days were effective in keeping students and faculty at OSU mentally healthy during the pandemic,” Youker said. “It provided days for everyone to just have a ‘me’ day and regroup themselves.”

Wellness days left many students unsatisfied because they felt like they needed more time off and a full week to mentally unwind.  

With news that fall will be back to normal, students are hopeful that wellness days won’t be necessary. 

Students will find it comforting to go back to normal in the fall even without wellness days,” Stika said.