Emerson introduces wellness passes, flexibility week

A+Spring+2020+Student+Government+Association+meeting.+

Photo: Beacon Archives

A Spring 2020 Student Government Association meeting.

By Frankie Rowley, Assistant News Editor

Emerson will implement “Wellness passes” and a “Flexibility Week” in late March to promote student wellbeing in lieu of a traditional spring break, after more than 1,700 students signed on to a Google Form asking the college for a respite.   

Wellness passes will allow students an excused absence in each of their classes, barring days that group projects and exams are due. The flexibility week, which spans from March 22 to 26, will allow students and faculty to “reduce the pressure” of assignments. The decision, announced in a Monday morning email, is a direct response to SGA’s “Act to Advocate for The Community’s Well Being,” which proposed a series of alternatives to the traditional spring break first canceled in October.

The college told The Beacon during the week following the Feb. 26 Student Assembly meeting, where the idea of a “week of rest” was first introduced,  it could not implement a break in the calendar after it had been finalized as a result of accreditation and financial aid requirements.  

The decision to eliminate spring break was formalized with a vote of the full-time faculty union in October. At the time, college officials said the decision came as a result of a need to prevent students from travelling across the country and potentially driving the spread of COVID-19 on campus. 

Following the passage of SGA’s legislation, the calendar committee—made up of the presidents of the two faculty unions, two additional faculty members, and members of the academic affairs staff—met multiple times to discuss alternative solutions to a spring break. Each solution the committee considered did not require adding additional class days to the calendar.

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The solutions proposed by the college will be presented to faculty next week in a “consultative process” before they are implemented. More specifics about the solutions will be provided to students once an “affirmation process” is completed, according to the email.