Forum: Yale Breaks
With our two-week respite from midterms and assignments fast approaching, our staff bloggers mull an important campus buzzword: breaks. Diana Rosen ’16 offers a new perspective on the philosophy behind spring breaks, while Scott Stern ’15 pushes us to rethink summer funding.
Diana Rosen, Staff Blogger | Freshman in Pierson College
It’s getting to that time of year when the question, “So what are you doing over break?” permeates almost every conversation on campus. Back in December, an answer of, “I’m catching up on the last two seasons of ’30 Rock,’” or, “I’m going for the freshman 30 with the Christmas cookies,” seemed perfectly satisfactory. But for some reason, many Yalies have decided that spring break is a time of mandatory productivity – you should be traveling to an exotic country to do research or interviewing for summer internships, not sitting on your couch watching all of the Oscar nominees six months late.
This doesn’t really make sense to me. Fall break was recently added to the academic calendar in order to reduce the amount of stress that accumulated during first semester. Nobody expected anyone to seek out some fantastic travel or work opportunity – we were all just expected to chill out a little bit. That was only five days, but the same holds true for winter break. Those four weeks are reserved for anything but productivity. So why should spring break be any different?
The expectations for spring break are a product of the constant Yale mentality of making the most of every moment we have here. These four years will fly by, we’re told, and we’ll forever regret the things we didn’t do. This breeds unnecessary levels of stress that, for some students, become too much to handle. Something that struck me when I arrived on campus was the number of students who chose to take time off during their four years. But it makes perfect sense given the constant stress they’re subjected to. They need a break.
There should be no shame in taking these two weeks in March as one of those much-needed breaks. Students should be happy to explain over dinner that their plans consist of accumulating over 150 hours of sleep. We spend enough time on campus comparing seemingly impossible workloads. There’s no reason for spring break to be one of those comparisons as well.
If some students have a desire to spend their break in an ultra-productive fashion, then all power to them. But it shouldn’t be assumed that all students must spend their break in this way. I’m sure there are students out there who already have this attitude about break, but, for the sake of our sanity, it needs to spread to the entire student body. Much of this campus needs a break – they should take it.
Scott Stern, Staff Blogger | Sophomore in Branford College
One of the true gems of Yale’s financial aid program is the International Summer Award (ISA). The ISA gives any student on aid a stipend to spend one summer abroad on a Yale fellowship. Yale provides students the same percentage of financial aid they receive during the school year — or more.
The ISA is a great opportunity. But for some students, like myself, it isn’t actually very helpful. I am eligible for an ISA, but I am not planning to study abroad. As an American studies major, I’m interested in domestic issues. International internships might be a good experience, but they don’t advance my academic program. I’d rather work in New York or the District of Columbia than in York, England or Colombia. And, from a practical standpoint, any domestic opportunity will likely cost less than an international program, even if the former is unpaid.
I want an SA! Maybe not an ISA, of course, but a DSA would be nice. A Domestic Summer Award program would be a valuable addition to Yale’s much-vaunted financial aid. Allowing students with internships in the United States to receive one summer of aid would make all the difference in the world, providing a valuable service to underprivileged kids who want to spend their summers studying issues in the United States.
Yale should want its students — we, the supposed leaders of tomorrow — to be as ready to lead in Spanish Harlem as we are in Spain. I understand the red tape that would have to be cut to so fundamentally change summer funding, and I understand it would be a departure from tradition for Yale, but it couldn’t be more helpful to so many students like me. We should want the Yale name to be as respected at home as it is abroad. We should want to help any Yalie fund his or her dream internship — even if it is domestic. That is, at its most basic, the point of financial aid — helping to fulfill someone’s dream.
I am hoping to get an internship in public interest law. In the United States. I am asking Yale to help me help those closer to home.