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The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

Removal of UWL’s Wellness Weekend sparks call for legislative change

Image taken by Trinity Rietmann.

Three years ago, consequent of COVID-19, a day of no classes was added to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse academic calendar titled: Wellness Weekend. Now, after three years, Wellness Weekend has been cut from the 2024-2025 academic calendar, making this year the last year UWL students experienced a day off mid-fall semester. 

“I’m disappointed. I’m really disappointed,” said UWL third-year McKenzie Sullivan. “It’s just a nice break to think about things other than school.”

Sullivan is not alone in her thoughts on the removal of Wellness Weekend. President of Student Association Siri Flores said, “I’ve grown up through college with the idea that the University cares about Wellness Weekend, and then we get to where we are today and it’s being cut.”

Wellness Weekend serves as a much-needed break for students, which Faculty Senate Member and Associate Professor of Communication Studies Gregory Ormes understands.

“You [students] work through the weekends, you have jobs on the weekend or you do homework on the weekend or whatever it is. So when you do 15 straight weeks of a semester without an opportunity for a break in there, any of us would be exhausted working seven days a week sometimes more than 40 hours a week. Sometimes 50, 60, 70 hours of doing work a week. So I think burnout is something that you can expect would happen for our students,” Ormes said.

Third-year student Tara Metzke spoke about what her weekdays look like. 

“For the last two weeks I was literally at the library every single night until midnight, and then one of the nights I had to stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning doing homework because I don’t really have enough time in the day to get everything done,” she said.

Metzke continued, “It’s [Wellness Weekend] like a mental reset for us to relax and have the weight off our shoulders for a couple days so we don’t have to worry about school on top of all of our other responsibilities.” 

Now Wellness Weekend has been removed from the school calendar.

Vice Chair of Faculty Senate Rose Brougham said, “Not all students are able to enjoy wellness day because they have classes that cannot be canceled. The curriculums and the requirement for the rigor and for the degree require the time in the classroom, and so those classes cannot be canceled.”

She continued, “It’s really difficult because you don’t want to appear to favor a discipline or a bunch of disciplines and not others.”

During Wellness Weekend campus events cannot be moved, such as this year’s theater production of Dr. Faustus.

“It [Wellness Weekend] has its advantages and disadvantages. Both are valid, but in the end, to serve the largest amount of people, that’s what we had to do,” said Brougham.

With the removal of future Wellness Weekends on campus, a task force was created to discuss alternatives to a day off. Flores, a member of this task force said, “The task force has yet to convene.”

The task force was suggested in February of 2023 and the original plan was to convene in spring of 2023. 

“It just seems to be put on their [Faculty Senate’s] back burner, and for students this is one of the biggest issues right now. I think it’s going to have ongoing effects,” Flores said. “It’s just really disheartening that they don’t even want to entertain conversations.” 

While there is currently no proposed plan regarding the task force, Ormes spoke about its significance. “It’s important that we still have this task force, that we’re still going to go forward with these conversations, and Student Association should continue to speak up and advocate for what they want future fall semesters to look like.”

A fall break is not completely out of the picture, but creating one is not as easy as it might seem. When Wellness Weekend was originally proposed, it was understood that it could never be a full day off for everyone because that day of instruction was still needed for lab and studio classes.

During the fall semester, there is no extra room in the calendar for a day of instruction elsewhere because of a law mandating that the start date of classes be set in September.

“We can’t take a full fall break because the laws set by the state legislature don’t permit it,” Ormes said. 

Brougham said, “We’ve been talking about it and trying hard to figure out how to offer that day for everybody in the fall, but until we can move that start date of classes, there’s no place that we’ve found.”

If that law were changed a fall break could fit into the calendar. “If we start a week earlier, we could have a week off. We could have a fall break,” Ormes said. 

There is a lot that goes into the process of changing the law and students can be a part of that process explained Ormes. 

“It’s lobbying. It is calling legislators, visiting and having conversations with legislators, building coalitions, demonstrating need, collecting data, creating arguments, drafting bills, turning to community members and asking for their support to lobby for legislature too,” said Ormes.

“Organize. That’s what democracy is about. Democracy is government for the people. We have voting, and the students on this campus have huge voting power,” Brougham said. “Because we’re all connected with the University of Wisconsin, you can all connect together and have a voice.”

Flores said, “I’m one person. If this is a general student body concern, which I believe it is, we need to band together on this issue and make our voices heard.”

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About the Contributor
Trinity Rietmann
Trinity Rietmann, Photojournalist
  • Year at UWL: Junior
  • PGPs: she/her/hers
  • Hometown: Baraboo
  • Major: Art Education
  • Minor: Photography and Recreation Management
  • Other Campus Involvement: Women's Rugby Team
  • Future Plans after Graduation: Become an art teacher
  • Favorite activity in La Crosse: Hiking at the Bluffs
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