Was the Mini-Break Really a Break?

Author: Emma Koster


When campus isn’t filled with students over winter and summer break sessions, the library echoes with a unique quiet and has an eerily empty feel, like an airport at 2:00 a.m. or the grocery store late at night. Chairs sit uninhabited and a sense of restfulness hums in the air. It’s no surprise Hesburgh Library didn’t look or feel quite that empty Tuesday, March 2. Amidst the advice to slow down and take a moment for yourself, Notre Dame students still populated this well-loved study spot. At 8:50 p.m. in the evening, the library seemed just as full as it always is on the university’s scheduled “mini-break” day.

It was a “good day of balance,” for first-year Ashleigh Cotter, a resident of Pasquerilla East. Cotter spoke to the way she purposefully broke up the day to get work done but to also be able to enjoy some time off. It was a slow start to the morning, with a majority of the afternoon being spent in the library working on a project and studying for an exam the next day. An evening email announced the exam was being canceled so Cotter returned to her dorm to unwind with some Netflix. Cotter credits her professors for the ability to find some relaxation on this random Tuesday as it was a lighter week of work in general.

“I think this is an important point to make, too, on Monday night I made the point of doing all my homework due Wednesday so I could relax,” said Ella Batz, a first year studying neuroscience and behavior. Batz had the ability to prioritize rest by getting her work done in anticipation of the day off. She enjoyed the simple things, like spending some more time on her morning routine. “I got ready and I could actually take the time to do hair and makeup and put on a cute outfit which is always fun for me. Cause I do not do that when I wake up for my 8:00 a.m.s,” Batz laughed. 

Sophomore Andrea Romero said Tuesday was essentially like any other day for her. She spent the week prior in quarantine and got out Tuesday morning. It was convenient timing as Romero said, “It was nice that that lined up, that I could get tested and move out and everything without worrying about my classes,” on Tuesday. After returning to campus around noon, she sat down to do some homework, which she returned to on and off throughout the day spending an approximate four hours on her studies during the so-called break. “I feel like it was mostly just like any other day,” Romero noted. 

Whereas some professors seemed to acknowledge the importance of this day of rest, Romero said she heard friends joking, “can someone tell our professors that the mini-break isn’t a reading day,” as she further explained “if anything there was more work that they assigned just to make up for that one day that wasn’t going to be used for classes. So, it just feels, I don’t know, it feels almost performative just to be able to say that they did something to help.”

Even with that frustration, Romero admits she doesn’t know of a better solution herself.  In general, all three students shared the sense that although this single day off may have caused some annoyance as students question how “restful” it could really be, they acknowledged that they didn’t have many other suggestions to offer in the face of the pandemic. 

Overall, reviews were mixed. Some students decided to embrace their mini-break and not even open a book on March 2, and others spent a majority of their day in the library. It’s no replacement for spring break, but Romero, and others, felt it was “better than nothing.” Romero shared that she intends to plan something special for the subsequent mini-break day on April 21. “I think for the next one we will try to find some activity to do and since it’s going to be nicer outside, I will be able to take more advantage of it next time.” 

“I got into bed at like 10:15 p.m., which is, like, unheard of,” Batz said through a laugh. Cotter slept in until 10:30 a.m. which is an impossible task on a normal week filled with 8 a.m. courses. Even if it was simply an extra hour or two of sleep, we college students know to take however many extra zzzzs we can get.