If I learned anything from my first week of classes, it’s that I’m pretty sure I’m going to hate Tuesdays for the next three months.
Since I transferred two years ago, my stupid excess of credits gave me early picks for most of my class times. I gave myself empty Wednesdays and Fridays, light Mondays and Thursdays and an unholy Tuesday schedule that looks like it clawed its way onto my SOLAR page straight out of my nightmares.
I’m booked solid, with not a hint of daylight, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
I’m sure there are plenty of people with heavier courseloads who want to punch me in the jowls for complaining about one nine-hour day. But after my first sleep-deprived Tuesday, I’m left with one burning question:
When the heck am I supposed to eat?
Stony Brook University allots a minimum of seven to 10 minutes between classes to give students time to stampede from Frey to Javits and maybe take a deep breath before their next lecture. If you’re lucky, a merciful professor teaching your next class starts five or 10 minutes late. Try to pick up a snack along the way, even with that off-the-books break, and you risk missing a crucial start of a PowerPoint, or even a pop quiz.
In my case, I could swap some courses around if I really wanted to, but my schedule is the exception to the rule. I’m willing to bet a body part there are plenty of people right now who don’t have the luxury of budgeting time in their school day to meet their bare biological necessities. Factor in travel time, homework, jobs and extracurricular activities and we’re left with a sizeable student population walking around in a malnourished daze.
That kind of nutritional neglect has a tangible impact on the way people perform. Remember all those Scholastic articles your parents and teachers fed you about how important it was to eat a balanced breakfast before grade school? That still applies after puberty. Lunch is no less important, and survey after study show a midday calorie caper can mean the difference between a productive afternoon and an on-the-job siesta.
The only guaranteed free time Stony Brook students have in their week is Campus Life Time, a time slot on Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 2:20 p.m. that’s meant to be jammed with Hula Hoop Enthusiast Club meetings and the other miscellaneous activities that make college life fun. So why don’t we throw a bone to 25,000 bellies and stick an hour-long lunch break in the middle of every weekday?
As a concession to the retaliatory burst of “DURRRR THAT’S NOT HOW THE REAL WORLD WORKS,” federal law does not mandate that employers provide their workers time for lunch. Still, workers in the U.S. and Canada report statistically significant improvements in job satisfaction, engagement and productivity when given the chance to take some downtime for food. Students in elementary, middle and high school performed better on standardized tests when provided with healthy school lunches, according to a study by the University of California, Berkeley. There’s no reason to think that trend would dissolve after 12th grade.
Sure, every college student is in theory an adult who should be making scheduling decisions that allow them to stay healthy. Maybe it’s handholding to assume time for food should be mandated. But is it really that big a leap from one Campus Life Time to five? Even prisoners get a half-hour lunch break. Even prisoners in Estonia, where people eat curd snacks, get half an hour. So please, just give us a break.
(My apologies to the fine nation of Estonia. I was awfully hungry when I wrote this.)