Study breaks ease end-of-semester tension

Annie Roge

During the week of finals, the Residence Life staff will hold study halls every evening to help students relax after stressful days.

For Whitman students living in on-campus, organized study breaks are an integral part of residence life. While each Hall organizes its study breaks independently during the year, the end goal is the same –– to provide students with time off from studying and a place to reconnect, hang out and de-stress.

“Programs like study breaks are meant to be a quick and easy way to learn something new, meet a new friend, eat a snack, and/or get re-energized during the busy weeks,” said Hannah Moskat, Resident Director of College House, Douglas Hall and Marcus House. “We offer this
opportunity every night during finals to continue to promote the importance of taking a break and stretching your brain in a different way.”

With Finals Week just around the corner, Residence Life staff are beginning to plan study breaks across campus to help students make it through a potentially stressful time.

“I always tell everyone I turn into a cheerleader during Finals,” said Cory Kiesz, Hall Director of Anderson Hall. “The staff tries to get really amped up––just being in that atmosphere kind of raises morale a little bit, or at least distracts people long enough so that they can have a mental break.”

While study breaks are held during Finals Week, Kiesz says his staff tend to create a slightly calmer atmosphere than usual.

“[During] Finals Week we try to keep things a little more low-key than during the rest of the year … something that doesn’t take a whole lot of mental energy,” said Kiesz.

Study breaks have varied drastically over the years, and several stand out to staff and residents alike.

“Right before Thanksgiving break we had doughnut-eating competition,” said Jane Carmody, Resident Director of Jewett Hall. “The RAs tied powdered doughnuts to strings and then hung them from the ceiling at varying heights. Then we blindfolded residents and placed them near a doughnut. After spinning them around, they had to fully finish eating the doughnut…We did about four rounds of this and it was hilarious.”

While most study breaks take place inside the halls, some have, over the years, gone outside of the box.

“Another cool one we’ve done…is watch Jaws in the pool,” said Kiesz. “They got a projector, a lifeguard and they just sat there in the pool and watched Jaws.”

Some study breaks have become the stuff of Residence Hall legends. Kiesz remembers one such event, still referred to as the “Baby Study Break.”

“The Baby Study Break is infamous,” said Kiesz. “It was the year before I came here, and it was Keiler Beers and Nathan Sany –– they’ve both since graduated –– they dressed up like babies all day. Then that night, they pushed couches together and they let the residents feed them, cradle them and sing to them … and just sat there and acted like babies which was hilarious.”

As they prepared for Finals Week, Residence Life staff members reminisced on their favorite Finals Week study breaks, which include “Snacks from the Past,” “Animal Crackers and Spirit Animals,” children’s books, eight-minute abs, coloring books, “Nachos and Shakira,” stress-
ball making, non gender-specific nail painting parties, and Jazzercise. The emphasis is always on fun, relaxation, and providing a healthy outlet for students who may be struggling under the weight of academics –– be it nightly homework or final exams.