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JMU doesn’t provide mental health days like other universities. 

There’s less than a month until Thanksgiving break. This may seem like a long time, but without another break in sight, this is what students are looking forward to. 

Students need more days off from class. JMU should recognize more holidays and add student well-being days to the academic calendar.

Some holidays, such as Labor Day, Veterans Day,  Presidents Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day, were created to recognize and honor certain individuals. Carrying on with normal classes doesn’t respect the reason these holidays were created. 

With an open weekday, JMU and student organizations can hold events that honor these holidays and educate students on important subjects. This allows students to take a break and to understand the purpose of certain holidays.

Canceling classes on Election Day would encourage voting. With busy class schedules and extracurriculars, it’s hard for students to set aside the time to vote. If there were no classes, students would have plenty of time to vote. Additionally, they might feel more encouraged to do so if the university offered them an accessible opportunity.

Halloween is different from the holidays previously mentioned, but students should still have this day off. It’s a time students look forward to, especially after midterms. Students value this time to have fun and be together with one another. 

JMU senior, Brenna Mcgonigle, said students should have recognized holidays off — such as Labor Day and Election Day — because most people do. The University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Virginia Commonwealth University have some of these recognized holidays off, according to their Offices of the Registrar. It shouldn’t be different for JMU.

There also need to be days of the school year set aside specifically for students to rest.

Some universities, like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), have student well-being days.

According to the UNC Office of the Registrar, two well-being days this semester, as well as three next semester. These days are meant to support student mental health. 

This shouldn’t be the only university initiative to support student mental health, but these days provide a much appreciated break for students.

GBH News offers a critique of well-being days, stating that students use the extra time off to do work. Because this isn’t a genuine break, it doesn’t help their mental health. Additionally, there are many other ways universities can support student mental health that would be more impactful. 

Some other ways to support student mental health have been implemented at JMU, such as providing the counseling resource TimelyCare.

Student well-being days may not always be helpful but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be implemented at all. 

Mcgonigle thinks well-being days are beneficial for students. 

“This week, for me, was really hard and I could’ve used one,” Mcgonigle said, “and it definitely gives people a day to catch up too, whether it be mentally or on work.” 

Students appreciate these days, and this is just one way that students can feel a little relief from their college workload.

Mary Mabry is a freshman communication studies major. Contact Mary at mabrymm@dukes.jmu.edu. For more editorials regarding the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the opinion desk on Instagram and Twitter @Breeze_Opinion.