Take the day off
It is 8:17 a.m. on a quiet autumn Tuesday. Leaves blanket our ten-by-five foot lawn as if it were an artist’s abstract creation with paints of orange, red, yellow and brown. The sky stares back with a pale blue face. Touches of clouds are marked here and there as if that same artist was dissatisfied with a single colored heaven. Most of us students from the University of Massachusetts engage in our morning routines which include coffee and last minute homework. We secretly wish for the day off but quickly disregard the fantasy as impossibility. But what if we could have a day off? With classes cancelled on the whim of the weather defined by a gorgeous day, not just one snuffed out by ten feet of snow?
For those who have read my Gospel-centered columns in the past, it may be a surprise to know that one of my greatest sources of joy in life other than Jesus is reading the yellow-highlighted text on the University website announcing that “Classes are cancelled.” It’s as if those words in all their official rigidity actually speak life into me saying, “Look, buddy. I know you’re working really hard, but just take a day off. Get back in bed, and don’t wake up – ‘till noon. Then mosey on over to the dining hall for lunch and then go play outside.”
So why can’t we have more of these days that uplift our spirits? A couple of our sister schools in the Five Colleges have a day in the fall called “Mountain Day.” Now this is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard of. According to Alicen Roberts, a student at Smith College, the president of the school chooses a day based on how nice the weather is to cancel classes. This day is only known to them (not even the professors know), and at a sound of the campus bell at 7:00a.m., all of the classes for that day are cancelled.
Can you imagine a more anticipated noise at 7:00am for a college student? I know I can’t, considering I want to obliterate everything and anything that makes enough noise to wake me up at that hour.
“It’s like a snow day but more wonderful because it’s a glorious autumn day,” Amanda Sickles, an alumnae from Mount Holyoke College, said. She continued to talk about how that one day off improved her overall morale and “increased [her] fondness for MHC.”
There will always be those whom we all envy with light schedules consisting of a one credit yoga class at noon and a five-hour lunch break before the three credit rock-climbing seminar at Hampshire College. But I think the majority of students here at UMass run from class to class to extracurricular with just minutes to scarf down a taco salad from the Bluewall. With a job on campus along with my classes, I don’t taste sweet freedom until 6:00 p.m. after having left for my morning routine at 9:00 a.m.. We could all use, at the very least, a day off to look forward to like the students at Smith and Mount Holyoke.
I don’t think this is too much to ask. The cost of a professor having to wait another day to hand out their exam because of the spontaneous vacation day will most likely be paid. What better way to raise morale on campus than to provide hope for the (plentifully) stressed students?
I’m a person who regularly deals with all forms of attention deficit whether hyper active or just hyper imaginative, so the thought of a random break appeals to me. For the people who live by highly structured schedules and appointments more strictly, this may add even more stress to them. Nevertheless I think it’s a necessary experience to introduce.
“Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,” said Matthew Broderick in the great American classic film, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” And he’s right. I know the American model for “success” can only come into existence when our noses are firmly pressed on the grindstone, but I hope we’re getting more out of this college experience than chronic ulcers and an addiction to caffeine.
So until the administration gets the paperwork done to include our school in the Pioneer Vally’s tradition of Mountain Day, I encourage you to take it upon yourself to create time to enjoy this fall season in New England. If you need help, tomorrow is conveniently Veterans Day so practice your lounging, eating and hiking skills on your day off.
Thomas Moore is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.