Slippery Rock University hosted its first “Kickback Week” from March 7-13. Events ranged from in-person workouts at the ARC, games for students to get involved in, speakers and more. The events from the week are available on CORE.
Lacking a fall break, students were vocal in their need for a break in the spring semester. This was something that couldn’t happen in time, so Kickback Week was a way to attempt to give students a chance to have some relaxation.
Kickback Week took place during a time when many students were taking and preparing for mid-terms. There was no way to prepare for this impediment, but many students were left feeling more frustrated because of this.
Faculty was made aware of the importance of Kickback Week, but not required to make any changes to their schedules by cancelling class or postponing due dates. Some professors indulged in the week to relax, some did not know it was happening.
Lauren Moran, director of student engagement and leadership, facilitated the week. She helped direct all events and organizations that are outside of the classroom. Moran recognized some of the letdowns of where Kickback Week fell in the semester.
“It’s hard for [students] to kickback and relax when they have all of this academic work,” Moran said. “You know, that’s the balance of we didn’t have a spring break and so this sits in the middle of the semester. So, you know, I’m a little disappointed that we couldn’t have gotten more students because of how busy they have felt.”
While recognizing that students have missed out, there was also a good bit of active involvement. Having multiple departments involved with the weeks festivities helped aid in the participation. More work could have been done to increase participation.
“I think . . . we needed a stronger University message of what this week should have been,” Moran said. “Dr. Behre did send out an email to faculty weeks ago about potentially easing the load, but sometimes that’s hard because of schedules and those kinds of things.
“So sometimes it’s a balance between what happens in student affairs and what happens in the classroom. I think as a university we might have needed to have a little bit more consistent of a message overall.”
Although there were complaints and positive reactions to Kickback Week and its process, it is important for students and faculty to recognize that people relax in different ways. Relaxation can vary from having no organization meetings, class time off, running or even sleeping a little bit more than normal. Relaxation is not a one size fits all thing.
Many classes did not have room to adjust schedules, but many organizations took the week off with no meetings or minimal work requirements, which served as a breath of fresh air for many students across campus.
Moran once again acknowledged the challenges that arise this time in the semester.
“It’s a tough balance, I know it is,” Moran said. “That’s something we couldn’t have anticipated. We’ve never had to deal with not having a spring break and so I think everyone’s used to this week being literally a time where we can all check out.”
The hope is that SRU will return to a more full campus and potentially a spring break in the 2022 spring semester, ensuring Kickback Week will not be a replacement for what students are missing, but it has proven to be of some value. The spring is full of history months coupled with educational events, though, there needs to be a few more events solely for fun.
“I kind of was relating it to a homecoming in the spring. . . Maybe we need to find kind of that, just like, fun events where we can kick back and enjoy our time at SRU,” Moran said. “I think there’s potential [for a possible future for Kickback Week].”
Kickback Week was impactful on the level of stress-relief but it also gave those working behind the scenes a chance to work on some professional skills and relationships.
“Sometimes in higher ed. you see departments or student organizations functioning in silos and I really want to break some of those down and I think that Kickback Week helped us to do that a little bit more.”
Moran encourages students to take a break in the weeks following Kickback Week, if they were not able to during the week of the events. Take meetings off your calendar, hang out with friends, reach out to resources on campus, and breath a little.