In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hope College suspended its annual spring break, leaving students disappointed but understanding that such a decision was necessary in order to — as the Campus Health email so artfully put it — “#stopthespread.” The administration scheduled several Break Days® throughout the semester in order to give students a break from classes while attempting to ensure that no one would head south for a long weekend. Of course, this happened nevertheless: one group of seniors rented a private jet and headed for the Florida Keys the night before Break Day® to ensure that their final spring break was celebrated in style.
The Anchor sent me, the Covid Protocol Correspondent, on the trip to find out what prompted these students’ sudden departure from campus and prolonged break despite the college’s urging otherwise. McKelleighy VanderVeenstra (’21) commented, “Living in Michigan is such a drag during the winter. I totally would have dropped out if I knew that Hope would only let me go on vacation twice this semester.”
I asked her to clarify what she meant by the college allowing her two vacations. “Oh,” said VanderVeenstra, “So I’m here now, and then we’re renting another jet to go out to Hawaii for Easter.” When asked how she justified partying on the beach just after the U.S. announced its 500,000th Covid death, VanderVeenstra set down her Piña Colada. “All fifty of us got tested last week and someone’s mom cleaned the plane before we left,” she explained. “So it’s okay.”
It was at this point that I contacted my editors and asked to be recalled to campus, citing safety concerns. I consider myself lucky to have made it back Covid-free and ready to cover the events of Hope’s inaugural Break Day®.
Although many student groups hosted events, such as the Intramural Cornhole Tournament and Hope Gambit, the main on-campus event was the SAC-sponsored bowl painting. Not unlike the wildly successful mug painting event earlier this semester, students could sign up in advance to receive a DIY bowl painting kit. Basking in the glow of their newly fired mugs, many students were excited to take part in this Break Day® event.
What students didn’t realize was that the bowl pickup station would be the only on-campus office open during Break Day®. All emails sent that day to an administrative hope.edu address were redirected to firstname.lastname@example.org, overwhelming the student volunteers as they struggled to keep up with inquiries from students and faculty alike.
By 3:00 p.m., a large crowd had formed outside of the bowl pickup station. One student, who asked to remain anonymous, explained what happened when she attempted to visit the Office of the Registrar:
“I’m pretty busy this semester, so I totally missed my pre-registration advising appointment. Today I went down to the BSC to try and get some help so I can stay enrolled this fall. The door to their office was locked, and when I tried to open it, a staff member came up, put a sticky note on the door, and left. It read, ‘The Office of the Registrar is closed for Break Day®. If you have any immediate concerns, please email email@example.com.’ I didn’t know what the Bowl Office did, or that we even had one, but I sent them an email. A couple hours later, I got a reply telling me to come here. They asked if I was in crisis, and when I said no, they told me I was only eligible for a cup. I took it because I didn’t know what else to do, but it’s just a styrofoam cup. I don’t even think I can paint it.”
One member of Hope’s staff was seen wandering around with a letter of resignation in one hand and a cup in another. He explained, “I’m the designer who made all of those Break Day® graphics, but I just can’t take it anymore. Every time I submit something, my boss tells me to make it more ‘fun’ and ‘quirky.’ She says that I have to be a better hype man. But it’s just some Tuesday, man. I don’t know how to hype you up.” Dejected, the designer left his resignation letter with a confused member of SAC, took his styrofoam cup and left, in his own words, “Never to return.”
With one less hype man to call upon and a host of students now outfitted with their very own styrofoam cups, we can finish the semester strong, well-rested and with every need met. Stay tuned for our next Break Day® on Wednesday, April 28!