Update: Utica College to implement break days determined by respective faculty, traveling concerns addressed


Photo: Utica College

Nick McAdam, Editor-in-Chief

A video message from President Laura Casamento was sent via email to students yesterday addressing concerns over student travel during the semester and the mental health break day which was originally set for Nov. 3 and then canceled, according to the administration.

First, Casamento addressed students traveling outside of Oneida County. The president cleared that there is no travel ban for on-ground students, though the administration and campus health authorities would like to be informed of travel plans.

“Unquestionably, the safest thing to do is stay in this area,” Casamento said. “If that’s not possible, please be smart about where you go and what you do, and keep us informed of your plans.”

The college will continue to require students, faculty and staff to fill out the travel report before leaving, informing the college of reasons for travel, return date and the destination address.

Second, Casamento turned attention to the mental health break day. The plan to give students a day off on Nov. 3 was canceled due to complaints from a handful of faculty members as a result of short notice while trying to incorporate a break day into their course schedule, according to an email sent by Provost Todd Pfannestiel on Oct. 23.

The Tangerine contacted several faculty members for comment throughout the week and did not receive responses, nor were any specific faculty members addressed in the provost’s original email.

In response, Casamento has reinstated a break day for students at faculty discretion starting when the email was sent on Oct. 30 to Nov. 20, days before the semester ends.

“It’s better than nothing,” Senior Lindsey Rasmussen said. “I think that if you have more than one class a day, you still wouldn’t get the full day off if another professor decides to have class. I really think having a day off on Nov. 3 would’ve helped get more students to vote as well.”

Casamento concluded the address with gratitude toward students, faculty and staff for keeping safety at the top of the priority list as Utica College has consistently kept positive coronavirus cases below 10 people, according to the college’s coronavirus dashboard.

“Let’s commit ourselves to supporting one another and finishing strong,” she said. “And when you return to UC after the long winter break, I hope we can look forward to a spring semester that will seem a little closer to normal, if circumstances allow.”