For nearly a century, highly regarded academic institutions such as Harvard, Notre Dame, Duke, and the University of Texas — among hundreds of others — have provided students with breaks throughout the school year. These universities consistently rank highly along the best universities in the nation across various domains. One esteemed school, however, stands apart by not offering extended breaks during the fall or spring terms. Ours.
Over the past several years, the absence of a spring break at BYU has raised concerns among students, faculty, and parents. The call for a spring break is not merely driven by a desire for a week of leisure; it is grounded in genuine concern for the overall well-being of the BYU community. The grueling winter semesters filled with projects, exams, and harsh weather make a spring break a sensible and productive solution to address students’ emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
Official publications of the Church have consistently stressed the importance of mental health, emotional well-being, and balance. In a BYU Speech, Donald L. Hallstrom once said “seeking balance … is vital to our success in mortal probation.” The lack of a spring break can have adverse effects on students’ mental and emotional health as the continuous academic grind leads to burnout. A well-timed break allows students to balance academics with other aspects of life by providing a designated time for relaxation, reflection, and quality family time. This enables students to rejuvenate and return to their studies with increased focus and enthusiasm, ultimately fostering spiritual well-being.
There is no arguing the importance of education and acquiring knowledge. However, as stated by M. Russell Ballard, “What matters most is what lasts the longest, and our families are for eternity.” Recent data indicates that 62% of BYU students come from out of state, making it more costly and time-consuming for those individuals to travel home. With very limited breaks throughout the academic year, it is exceptionally difficult for those whose parents live out of state to find time to visit their home and families. A spring break would reflect the value of familial relationships central to the Church’s gospel.
In a world where many institutions recognize the value of a spring break, including other prestigious and religious universities, BYU’s lack of one is increasingly out of step with current societal attitudes and practices. It’s essential for BYU to remain competitive and attractive to prospective students, and providing a spring break aligns with this aim.
The call for a spring break at BYU is not a frivolous demand, but a genuine concern for the well-being of its students and the alignment of its practices with the principles endorsed by the Church. By considering the guidance of authorities within the Church, it is clear that the implementation of a spring break at BYU would be consistent with the values and goals of the institution. It’s time for BYU to reevaluate its stance on this matter and make a change that will benefit the entire university community.