Opinion | Everyone needed a spring break, not just students

The lack of spring break is affecting everyone across campus — especially UI professors.

Signe Nettum, Opinions Contributor

On April 14, the University of Iowa will have its second — and last — day of instructional break in lieu of an official spring break.

In an email sent back in September 2020, the university stated the reasoning behind a lack of a spring break: “this change was made in consideration of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the ability to maintain the same number of instruction days while starting one week later.”

The reasoning behind the scattered pattern of one instructional day on a Tuesday, and the other on a Wednesday was to “avoid three-day weekends which could encourage students to leave campus.”

As a student, I could complain all day why I think the lack of a spring break is dumb, and why having these instructional days is doing more harm than good for students — some professors are posting recorded lectures on the days instead of hosting synchronous or in-person class. But students are not the only ones who are taking a hit from the lack of a spring break this academic year.

Professors are also affected by the lack of a week of no classes. While the spring break may give students a break from classes, professors use the break in other ways.

Professor Kevin Rikpa — who currently teaches photography, graphic design, web design, and advanced graphic design in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications — said spring break was a time for him to catch up on work.

“In the last five years at the University of Iowa, I haven’t taken a break during spring break. I use it as a way to catch up with grading,” Ripka said.

Professors have to set out their classes in a way that teaches everything they need in a timely manner. When there is suddenly a day of absence from all of the students, the schedule has to be flipped around once more.

Ripka’s opinion on the instructional days is to keep his head down and bear with it. It is one semester without a true break in the endless chaos of school life and while it is tough for everyone right now, it will hopefully end with next semester.

“There was no easy answer for this situation,” Ripka said.

Professor Brooks Landon, who teaches within the Department of English, had a strong aversion to the two-day break.

“I like to call it fake spring break,” Landon said. “A spring break is a break from school. Students and professors might have things to do, but it is a week-long break. These days are just pauses.”

While it would go against the university’s reasoning to forego a three-day weekend, Landon believes it would have been more beneficial and served more as a mini break.

“We could have at least put them together. It is a cop out from the university,” Landon said.

It is not just students who are arguing and trying to figure out the semester with the lack of a spring break; we must also realize professors are facing their own problems. Sadly, there is not much we can do. At least there is the hope for the university allowing everyone to have a normal fall semester, and the return of a spring break will come during the 2021-2022 academic year.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.