Sammi Bray ’25 & Olivia Silvey ’25
Five weeks into the semester, four Tripods deep, numerous papers written and countless shots of espresso consumed between the UG and Peter B’s. The shiny hope of a new semester is almost completely gone from our eyes. The real action has begun, the heavy workload has set in. The promise of some relief lurks just around the corner, and if you listen carefully enough you can hear it…
Trin Days, Trin Days, Trin Days. For some of us, the promise of two days off from classes is enough. That four day weekend on your Google calendar seems to stretch for miles (five for those lucky enough to not have classes on Fridays). Realistically though, you will probably have to do some amount of catching up on work or getting ahead on assignments. Certain professors may be laying it on thick to make up for the missing class days — we will try to forgive them.
Some of us get to look forward to the opportunity to return home for the long weekend — maybe your hometown has a fall carnival, your parents are cooking something warm and hearty, or you might have a fluffy golden lab waiting to greet you when you pull into the driveway. For others though, Trin Days can look a lot different.
It is easy for us to get lost in all the leaves changing colors, the smell of pumpkin spice and these two days checked off the calendar. We continue a narrative that involves everyone going home to a happy, picture-perfect family. We forget about the students who have to work, or those who are unable to go home until the academic year ends. For many students, home is not a short car ride away and the cost of traveling home for four days is astronomical. Professors are still grading, perhaps even doing more than a usual weekend to catch up or work ahead just like students. The janitorial staff Mather workers, grounds and maintenance crews and other staff members that make this place run every single day still have to come to work. Trin Days are used as a big bandaid to patch up the stress we all feel — faculty, staff and students — without acknowledging the people who are not able to put their feet up at home with their dog this weekend, not to mention the weight we all carry cannot be solved by these extra two days.
Countless factors contribute to the burden that each of us carries heavily on our shoulders, and as we still adjust to the world post- pandemic, we have yet to get the solution quite right. Some classes seem to be moving too fast, adding on too much work. Last semester, many professors reflected on how overwhelmed they felt with grading assignments from midterms; students all seemed to agree that the workload around the midpoint was far greater than their previous semesters at Trinity.
Two days off are splendid — we most certainly are not advocating for their removal. But two days off in a semester is not enough to account for the realities we are all facing. Instead, we need to implement more solutions that support the health – mental, physical, emotional and even financial — of all members of the Trinity community.
In 2021, the Tripod reported that Trinity’s endowment increased to $783 million; while this number may be dwarfed by Yale’s $41.1 billion or even our fellow NESCAC Amherst’s $3.7 billion, that is no excuse to not use that money in better ways that invest more in our people. It takes weeks for students to get off the Counseling Center waitlist; Trinity should fund more to counselors and expand the center. Professors have always lacked adequate pay and benefits such as maternity and paternity leave; Trinity should increase pay and improve the benefits of all faculty (not just tenure/tenure track). Dining hall workers have a long history of struggle with Trinity’s food service provider Chartwells for basic benefits like health insurance; Trinity should get rid of the third party contractor, implement a system of food service that directly hires the workers and give them livable wages and benefits.
But, it’s not only about how Trinity spends its dollars. Earlier this month, Trinity announced that the institution earned five out of five stars on the Campus Pride Index, which rates colleges and universities across the country on their LGBTQ+ inclusivity. This announcement was met with many comments of disbelief, skepticism and outrage from students. With a staff made up of members of the LGBTQ+ community, including one of the EICs writing this editorial, we have had multiple discussions on how Trinity treats its members of this community. Five stars from an outside source does not translate to what students experience on a daily basis.
With all of that being said, we welcome the small drop in the bucket that this upcoming long weekend provides, no matter where we are headed or how much work we have to do. We hope that everyone can find a moment of peace wherever they end up. Ultimately, we call on Trinity to remember that these two days do not look the same for everyone, and do not solve everyone’s problems. Maybe this long weekend can be a time for our decision makers to reflect, communicate and prepare to implement more impactful structures that improve the wellbeing of our community.
-Sammi Bray & Olivia Silvey