Hootie Days can be substituted with other stress-relieving alternatives

Keene State College introduced Hootie Days last academic year as a way to make up for the loss of spring break. The purpose was to have a day in the middle of the week where all classes would be canceled and students would use it as a mental health day. The overall reaction to the Hootie Days was fairly mixed with some students loving the day off and others being annoyed with it. The KSC Senate voted in February to not bring back the use of Hootie Days. The Equinox agrees that the original use of Hootie Days should not be brought back, but alternatives for students to relax should be offered on campus. 

The Hootie Days original intent had a lot of aspects to iron out last academic year. We don’t think they went as smoothly as intended. The main point of aggravation was not knowing when a Hootie Day was going to happen. Student’s who had exams, homework due or labs on the days that were chosen to be Hootie Days found themselves getting a wrench thrown in their schedule. Professors that didn’t want to or couldn’t fall behind schedule, assigned work to be due during the class period anyway. The students in those courses had class without being in class regardless of the Hootie Day. Most students across the board either found their “mental health rest day” full of homework, full of classwork or full of stress about how much they will have to make up for in the coming class days. Hootie Days, in theory, was well intentioned, but the execution fell short. The Equinox thinks there are ways to help take the pressure off students without messing up schedules under such short notice. 

Our first suggestion is to have Hootie Days planned ahead of time, at the beginning of each semester. That way, professors can plan their curriculum around the days off, and students have something to look forward to. We’re not suggesting that Hootie Days should be frequent, as there are holiday weekends, spring break and Thanksgiving break for the official days off. But having two Hootie Days scheduled at the beginning and end of the semester like bookends would be a great way to give students the opportunity to catch up on work and maybe take a break.

The Equinox also suggests leaving the dining hall open later for students. There are some classes that run later in the day that don’t start until 6:00 p.m. and go as late as 9:30 p.m. The Zorn Dining Commons closes between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. during the week. Students that rely solely on their meal plan might not be able to get dinner some days because of their class schedule and the early closing hours. If the college isn’t able to give students Hootie Days or other mental rest days, then it can be assured that student’s not having to worry about where they are going to get dinner will really lift stress off their shoulders. 

Another suggestion we have is to host more events on campus that students can go to to get their mind off of the stress. For example, a field day on the practice fields with games like flag football, soccer, ultimate frisbee and other games that anyone can jump into and play. These days won’t even need to be in the middle of the week, any weekend day can be filled with fun and games for students to enjoy. Even some of the clubs can promote games of cornhole on the Student Center lawn for anyone walking by to join. Small activities like that to bring joy to the students can go a long way. 

Overall mental health breaks are almost necessary for college students. There is only so much the human body can take before it is in desperate need of a break. The Equinox hopes everyone can find time in their days to take a deep breath and relax, and that the college can assist in mental health breaks for students. 

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