Contemplating a New Approach to Spring Break (A Staff Perspective)

To: Faculty and Students
From: Human Resources
Subject: Asking Staff Members About Their Break Plans
Date: March 1, 2022

Dear Esteemed Faculty Members and Valued Students,

We know you’re excited about the upcoming break and the wonderful things you have planned. It’s always interesting to hear about boozy vacations in warm, sunny places or exciting cities, esoteric research and decisions about whether the title of your scholarly paper really needs a colon, and the challenging but eye-opening service trips you’ll embark upon to make the world a better place.

While the human resources department fully supports faculty and students, we write as a reminder that seemingly innocent questions about someone’s break plans may not be welcomed by staff members. The university’s staff members are not afforded breaks, and their work does not start and stop according to the academic calendar. Instead, they work 12 months of the year and slowly accrue vacation days that do not roll over into the next year. So, an inquiry into their breaking plans may elicit a blank stare, eye rolls, sarcasm or thinly veiled hostility. The staff understands you’re just being friendly and relatable, but they respectfully request that this line of questioning cease.

After meeting with union representatives, the human resources department determined it would be most helpful to pre-emptively answer the staff’s most dreaded question by providing the following possible responses to what staff members may or may not be doing on break. These answers also apply to the summer, fall break, and winter break.

We shared a draft of this memo with the faculty senate and the student government association officers to obtain their feedback and make any necessary adjustments in messaging. Apparently, they were unaware of the staff’s lack of breaks and expressed outrage (albeit arguably feigned). The human resources department felt it necessary to address their concerns. Moving forward, one of the two floating holidays afforded annually to staff members will be permanently set aside for the Monday of spring break as an honor and recognition day for the vital and valuable contributions of staff.

Finally, the president’s cabinet reviewed this communication and approved it with the condition it must contain a statement expressing a heartfelt appreciation for students, faculty, and staff. To that end, we appreciate you!

Things the Staff Will Be Doing During Break

  1. Trying to catch up on work. The human resources department has completed a study of how many minutes are lost to questions from students about faculty office hours, when their grades will be posted, why classes are listed in the catalog but are never taught, and if they can change their advisor. The amount of time spent on these queries is astonishing! A task force is being created to address this issue.
  2. Trying to remember to bring their lunch (See next section #3)
  3. Looking for places to get a cup of coffee (See next section #4)
  4. Wearing heavy boots, mid-length puffy coats, scraping ice and snow off their cars, and asking the facilities department to let them use space heaters.
  5. Reminding the facilities department to ensure card swipe door access schedules and heat-related occupancy settings to their buildings remain unchanged.
  6. Trying to figure out how to get one more piece of snail mail into already overflowing faculty mailboxes. Then, deciding it would be best to fill cardboard boxes and deposit it in said faculty offices.
  7. Calling to alert certain faculty members about impending visits by the fire marshal and maintenance employees. (Reminder: Please make sure there is a six-inch clearance between stacks of papers and the ceiling; otherwise, the sprinkler system will not be effective. The school cannot afford more fire code violations. Also, please remove collections of action figures, used coffee cup “photoographic experiments,” or dead houseplants on windowsills so that housekeeping can wash the windows in your absence.)
  8. Enjoying the peace and quiet on campus and in town. Please note: The staff’s union representative wishes us to remind you that the staff understands you’re the reason they are here. However, they hope you’ll concede you all can be quite exhausting.

Things the Staff Will NOT Be Doing During Break

  1. Missing your presence. (See section above #1, #6, #7 and #8)
  2. Looking for a parking space.
  3. Eating in the dining hall (It’s closed, thank you).
  4. Getting coffee at the campus Starbucks (It’s also closed, thank you).
  5. Getting rest, relaxation and a tan by fulfilling a lifelong dream to snorkel in the Maldives or climbing Machu Picchu.
  6. Worrying about what kind of mood the department chair is in today.
  7. Timing bathroom visits to avoid the crowds when classes change.
  8. Trying to leave campus early to beat the traffic.

On behalf of the staff, thank you for your kind consideration. Also, please be advised that extolling the glories of your break experience or noting travel-related exhaustion to staff members upon your return is ill-advised. We all know what happened last year and the incident with the stapler in the art department. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Go Broncos!

Sincerely,

Janine Davis,
Director of Human Resources
“Teamwork Makes the Dream Work”

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