On April 28, Muhlenberg College held its second and final “Breathing Day” of the spring 2021 semester. On both of these occasions, all classes were canceled and the Muhlenberg Activities Council (MAC) hosted several events to entertain the student body.
The concept of Breathing Day arose due to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the College administration to eliminate the typical Spring Break, likely to avoid travel. According to President Katheleen Harring, the days were created to replace the accustomed vacation time and to “allow time for students and faculty to recharge physically and mentally.” The first Breathing Day was on March 9. On this day, students created custom face masks and mugs in the Light Lounge. They also attended a “No-Class Bingo game,” which allotted prizes to the winners.
This month’s Breathing Day was also eventful, with MAC holding “Spring Fling” activities on the College Green. Dozens of students flocked to the green where they had the opportunity to tie-dye t-shirts. The popular stuff-a-plush event was also a hit, with students being able to create their own Marti the Mule stuffed animal.
“It’s a really nice treat to get a break every once in a while!”
The Non-Profit Marketing Class hosted a kickball fundraiser at the Muhlenberg Athletics Fields. The proceeds benefited El Sistema Lehigh Valley, an Allentown Symphony Association program that provides underprivileged and special needs youth with music lessons, academic tutoring and performance experience.
Yoshi Silverstien, founder and executive director of the Mitsui Collective, led a hybrid movement workshop that was held at the Leffell Center and broadcasted via Zoom. “[The Mitsui Collective is] a new organization working at the intersection of Jewish wellness, spirituality, nature connection and community building,” said Silverstein. The workshop educated the attendees on Lag Ba’omer, a Jewish holiday which celebrates the life of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.
The day culminated in a live concert, headlined by former Nickelodeon actor and current pop artist, Drake Bell. The concert was scheduled to occur in-person during the spring 2020 semester, but was canceled due to the pandemic. The rescheduled virtual concert was broadcasted outside on the College Green as well as virtually to any student who wished to attend. MAC also held a virtual meet-and-greet with Bell for select students who won a contest on the organization’s Instagram. Many students protested the concert on social media due to allegations of abuse, which Bell denies.
Student opinions surrounding Breathing Days are mixed. Sam Ruch ‘24 said, “It’s a really nice treat to get a break every once in a while! I think they’d be a great addition to a normal semester on top of normal breaks, as a chance to get some extra work done and recharge!” However, this was only the case for her on days when she was the busiest. When the first Breathing Day landed on a day when her schedule was already void of any courses, she noted that it “ultimately made me more overwhelmed to get work done.”
“I also don’t think a single breathing day a month should replace a spring break, but given the current circumstances I’m thankful to have had one.”
Carlie Nieman ‘23 was also thankful for the day off, saying, “Personally, I found the Breathing Day being on a Wednesday was really helpful because it separated the week nicely. I just wish there were more breathing days this semester!”
“The Breathing Day was honestly really nice,” said Cat Duncan ‘23. “It was a beautiful, warm and sunny day, and the campus seemed like it was alive again. I just wish that after enjoying the Breathing Day, I didn’t feel so overwhelmed with assignments that were due that week. I also don’t think a single breathing day a month should replace a spring break, but given the current circumstances I’m thankful to have had one.”
While many students felt disappointed by the removal of the semester’s Spring Break, the Breathing Days provided much-needed days of relaxation for the student body. The canceling of classes along with the plethora of events added some amusement to a school year filled with so much uncertainty.