May 6, 2022 | OPINION | By Karly Hamilton | Illustration by Iris Guo
This past Tuesday, members of the Colorado College community took part in a campus pause. The day came about following backlash regarding a 45-minute pause in place of a First Monday speaker at the beginning of Block 7.
Prior to the first pause, students received an email explaining that the event was designed so that “the CC community will observe a united pause: no classes, no meetings; an opportunity for a break from busyness to take care of yourself.”
While I appreciate prioritizing mental health, 45-minutes—or even a day—is not enough time to reframe one’s mindset. Additionally, while the Block Plan is rigorous, we all signed up to be here. There are undoubtedly more steps the school should take to ensure student well-being but taking a break from classes due to the intensity of learning on the Block Plan feels like it defeats the whole purpose of being here.
The reason I decided to attend CC was due to the unique academic experience and rigor of the institution. I wanted to be in an environment where I was pushed to my limits, having found in the past that I learn the most in situations where I am not the smartest person in the room and need to ask for help and support.
As such, I do not find it reasonable to wallow in sadness if I feel stressed out—I knew what I was getting involved in. Sure, there have been days where I can’t stand the subject I’m working on after weeks of eating, thinking, and breathing the same topic. But I push that aside and keep moving because those are the moments that I learn the most.
While I disagree with the need for a break from the academic system we all wanted to be a part of, there are bigger issues within our community the pause day has shed light on and made a statement about.
Leading up to the pause day, CC’s Student Government Association sent out an email to students with a document containing an explanation for the importance of mental health days and other demands of the school.
Of the 10 demands included in this document, which has been signed by over 200 students, there were three in particular that stood out to me.
The first demand states that “professors must devote at least one absence to a mental health day that a student may take without penalty.”
This jumped out at me due to its explanation that some professors view absences differently depending on the reasoning behind them. Including this grace to students affords us the opportunity to take care of ourselves if or when we need it without fearing for the consequences. For students that do not feel the need for this opportunity, there is nothing to stop them from attending every day of a given block—it merely provides the option to those who need it.
The next demand I found particularly impactful was the third, demanding “boundaries for classroom assignments and expectations.” While I have been lucky enough to have professors with clear and consistent communication, I know of others who have not been quite as fortunate. Horror stories of assignments posted at 9 p.m. due the next day or essay prompts posted on a Sunday evening when promised by Friday afternoon should not be the reality. Clearly professors have lives outside of the classroom, but students do as well.
Finally, reading about the demand to increase housing capacity resonated with me. As a rising sophomore, I have heard very few of my peers speak highly of their housing experience for the next academic year. The most powerful part of this demand was that it brought attention to the school’s three-year residential requirement and guaranteed four years of housing, neither of which seem to make sense given recent events. If the school does not have the space for all students, then the requirement needs to be adjusted or the school needs to create more housing.
These demands are just the tip of the iceberg in the document, which the pause day helps draw attention to. In this sense, I think the pause day is a strategic way to draw attention to greater issues at hand. I commend the student body for holding the school accountable, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds. We can do better, but the question is, will the school take the steps to help make this happen?