Breaking: Utica College intended a mental health “break day” for students on Nov. 3, then called off the gesture after faculty complaints

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Photo: Utica College

Nick McAdam, Editor-in-Chief

An email from Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Todd Pfannestiel on Oct. 23 announced a surprise break day for students on Nov. 3 as an appreciation for student efforts to continue championing their education during the pandemic and the restrictions that have come with it.

However, within three hours of that original email, President Laura Casamento and Pfannestiel received phone calls and emails, primarily from Utica College faculty members, that prompted the college to then cancel the mental health “break day” for students.

The news comes months into one of the most challenging semesters the college has ever faced not only with combatting the coronavirus but also issues of social and racial injustice remaining at the forefront and Election Day happening on that day.

This also goes in tandem with students balancing classes, involvements and other assets of campus and home life that might not be visible on the eye but instead in the mind. 

The decision came with regret, according to the President’s office. It was originally a plan to reward students for hard work, determination and perseverance throughout the semester. Yet, the original idea was received as “more work” for faculty members at the college, though students’ mental health still remains prevalent.

“The decision was arrived at following conversation with some faculty, faculty leadership, school deans and others,” Pfannestiel said. “While the questions and concerns are well received, the handful of vitriolic messages that all but accused administration of heartless ignorance are not.”

Though the original plans faltered through the cracks initially, the administration indicated an interest in potentially working something similar in a different manner in the future. 

“We tried to do something nice following the consultation,” Pfannestiel said. “Nothing more, nothing less.”


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