Professors, Give Us a Break

Illustration by John Hiller/Staff Illustrator

Katie 41
Katie Kyle
Opinion Columnist

Ah, Spring Break. The perfect time to kick back on a beach, soak in the sun and read two hundred pages of your school textbook. Right?

It seems ridiculous, but it has become a reality for many students. Ten minutes before class is dismissed for a holiday break, the professor announces a surprise assignment for us to finish during our time off. And just like that, we are forced to carry stacks of heavy textbooks on our getaway trips.  

One semester, I even had a professor drop a group video project on my class the day before Fall Break. It was due on our first day back, meaning it had to be completed over the break. Of course, four out of our six team members went home early for the Thanksgiving holiday, leaving me and one other unlucky member to complete a majority of the work.  

My question is: why?  

The professors could easily save the assignments for after the break.  

The work is not important enough that it justifies potentially ruining students’ family holidays. It is not even urgent. The assignments are irrelevant for the course. They feel completely random and unnecessary. It is work for the sake of staying busy, rather than for learning.  

It’s frustrating for students. Time that should’ve been spent with our family and friends is instead wasted on meaningless busy work. In shuffling our vacations around an unexpected due date, some of our plans are rescheduled, pushed off or even canceled altogether. But complaints regarding “holiday homework” are not tolerated, as if we’re expected to happily jump at the opportunity to spend our free time doing more work. 

Ironically, professors interfere with our holiday breaks while being guaranteed to have their own. According to the UAB Faculty Handbook, “During academic breaks faculty … are not required to teach, conduct research, be on campus, or maintain communication with students or others at UAB.”  

Students deserve the same mutual respect for our free time over breaks. Holiday breaks are for rest and relaxation, not for catching up or getting a head start on course material. More than anything, holidays are about seeing the loved ones we miss so much throughout the year. Breaks should be off-limits, not used as available time for professors to fill with random busy work.

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