Faculty approve spring break alternatives

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Photo: Zhuoli Zhang

Students walking on Boston Common.

By Frankie Rowley, Assistant News Editor

Emerson faculty members approved two proposed spring break alternatives during a Friday Faculty Assembly meeting. 

The two alternatives, first proposed by Faculty Assembly’s Calendar Committee on March 16 are “a flexibility week” and “wellness passes.”  The flexibility week will span from March 22 to 26, and students can use wellness passes beginning March 22. The new initiatives are the result of the Calendar Committee meetings held in response to the Student Government Association’s, “An Act to Advocate for the Community’s Well Being,” requesting some form of a break after spring break was cut in October to dissuade travel during the pandemic. 

During flexibility week, faculty are instructed to reduce the workload of their classes to give students a break from the course material to focus on their mental and physical health. 

Potential solutions outlined by the college include a reduction in regular response assignments, in reading, in page expectations on written assignments, and other solutions that meet the specific needs of each course. 

Students will also be granted wellness passes allowing one excused absence from each of their classes for any class day, except on days when major assignments or exams are due. Students are encouraged to notify professors of their absence in advancer to be excused without penalty. 

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“The Wellness Passes will allow for responsive flexibility given these [are] customizable for each undergraduate student,” the email said. 

According to the email, SGA’s initial suggestions for alternative breaks—including a five-day period of no classes, a period of no assignments, and the reinstitution of pass/fail grading—would jeopardize the college’s accreditation, financial aid, and other government regulations. 

From our perspective, the plan presented to you in the statement below represents the most workable alternative among several challenging possibilities,” the email read. “While diverging from the proposals in the SGA legislation, it provides relief for students and respects how difficult it would be for faculty to make major adjustments in their already established teaching schedules and designs in the College’s flex hybrid modality so late in the semester.

Along with the approved alternatives, the Calendar Committee will “welcome student interest in helping to shape the timing, flow, and structure of semesters at Emerson College,” and will subsequently include positions for an undergraduate and graduate student representative.

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