Globe’s Point: We deserve more than one mental health day

This Tuesday was the first annual Pioneer Pause, aimed to “raise awareness of the importance of mental health, while also strengthening our connections across the campus community,” according to the university’s website page for the event, filled with mental health focused activities and events. While this event is for sure a step in the right direction, we need more than one mental health day a semester, as our attendance policy is not flexible. 


According to the student handbook, students “must report consecutive (i.e., two or more) absences because of illness or injury to the Student Health Center” to be excused and “participation in certain university events and/or work-related travel may, at the

discretion of the instructor, constitute an excused absence.” Many professors enforce this two day absence rule, dropping your grade an entire letter if you miss class twice. This is absolutely unacceptable. 


Sometimes when we are sick or cannot make it to class in general, we do not know in advance, and if we are really out of it, notifying a professor about missing class slips our mind. We are human and forget things, which is okay, but to be only given two days out of an entire 15 weeks does not make sense, especially if university events and travel can be determined excused or not by individual professors and not have a university standard. 


Having one day without classes on a random Tuesday in October is simply not enough to get us through until Thanksgiving Break and the semester in general. Also, why was Pioneer Pause held on this day of the week? Shouldn’t it have been on a Monday, like most schools “fall breaks,” giving an extended weekend for us to choose if we wanted to go home or somewhere else? If anything, having a day off on a Tuesday keeps us on campus even more, especially when the events are held on campus, and can feel really confining and doing the opposite of the goal of this mental health day. 


Overall, taking care of our mental health is imperative, and our attendance policy makes it hard to do so. When we need a pause, we need more than one designated day and two unexcused absences a semester. Taking care of our mental health looks different for everyone, and we should not be punished for doing so.