By Sydney Haulenbeek | Contributing Writer
Michelle Doyle studies in one of the Perry Library's private study rooms. The rooms are available for reservation on the library's website and have limitations on how many students are allowed in rooms throughout the day. Photo by Sydney Haulenbeek.
Following enhanced safety measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, Old Dominion University made the decision to cancel both Fall Break and Spring Break, for the 2020-2021 school year.
With already shortened semesters and a more fast-paced schedule, this decision has had a less than positive response from students.
Michelle Doyle, a freshman living on campus, expressed her dismay at the university’s decision to cancel breaks.
“I was pretty disappointed. I can kind of understand where they’re coming from, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less,” she said.
She expressed that she was angry when she first heard the news. “I had plans. And Fall Break is usually the time where you go to decompress and think over your life choices. I don’t really have much of that right now.”
Transfer student M.L. Gladney III also expressed displeasure at ODU’s decision to cancel breaks.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me that they think that canceling Spring Break is going to somehow stop people from doing certain activities because if people are going to do dangerous things, like go to parties, whenever Spring Break “wouldn’t be happening,” I think they’re still going to do that,” said Gladney. “Or if there are other schools nearby that are still going to be having Spring Break or freshman or sophomores that had friends in high school...then they’re probably still going to go out there and kick it with them. I don’t think that canceling it for just our school is really going to make a difference.”
With a lack of designated breaks, students are finding it hard to find time to go home and visit their families. Doyle decided to go home after the Thanksgiving Break, an option which was offered this year, as classes convert to online only until the semester ends. But she said that the cancellation of Spring Break was what really upset her.
“That one hurt a lot. Because they also took away Fall Break. I feel like that's our time to really decompress and really figure out our life choices, but now we don’t have any of that.”
Doyle originally had had plans for her time off, but now she’ll be in classes, so she doesn’t foresee them happening.
“[The cancellation of breaks] is really just putting me in a time crunch,” Doyle said. “It's not life-threatening, it's just kind of irritating, you know?”
Gladney originally chose to attend ODU because of its proximity to the beach and planned to go during Spring Break.
“It would have been cool to have [gone]," said Gladney. "But I mean, whether we have them or not the work that is required for classes is still going to get done or not done.”
ODU’s response to the pandemic has been a significant cut-down on social events and socialization of any kind, which is something that both Gladney and Doyle is trying to get accustomed to. Common rooms in dorms were shut down on October 9th, following an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the Whitehurst dorm, and only reopened November 5.
“It's definitely all academics now, which is kind of weird because it's never been all about academics for me," said Doyle. “I’m normally very ‘go with the flow,’ but now I’m very regimented.”
While Doyle had anticipated her freshman year to include a lot of involvement on campus, football games, and potentially Greek life, it has been very different from what she expected. Nevertheless, she’s happy with the way it’s gone so far.
“I guess I just really saw it as my time to really blossom as a person. We’ll get there in due time. I’m really happy with how my freshman year is going now, I’ve met some great people. I guess it's a little bit better that it happened this way, I suppose. I’ll take it any way I can get it.
Following their cancellation of Spring Break, ODU has since added two reading days to the Spring semester: on March 2 and March 31.