I was extremely disappointed to receive an email this last Friday on behalf of Calvin University regarding its policy concerning Easter 2021. I, as a practicing healthcare worker and nursing student, assumed that Spring Break was not a realistic dream (though not having any break altogether is another debate that should be had, especially from the perspective of student well-being, but that is a conversation I don’t want to delve into today). But as a fervent believer and a student with a strong faith in Calvin’s sincerity of its Christian mission and worldview, I did not even consider the possibility of not having Good Friday off class; I was disheartened to learn that perhaps my faith in Calvin was a naive faith. The Monday following Easter Sunday is less of a big deal to me, considering it’s not a Christian holiday, but being forced to go to class on a Christian campus on the ceremonial day of Jesus’ crucifixion is almost sacrilegious.
This is being done so that everyone stays on campus for Easter, an idea which is equally outrageous. As Easter is clearly the most important day in the Christian tradition, I think it would be distasteful to be forced to be away from family – both biological and liturgical – on such an important day. We were told that the whole point of having the option of online classes was so that students who were uncomfortable with the inherent risks of being on campus in the current climate could avoid that risk, while others could still have a pseudo-normal experience. By forcing our hand like this, Calvin is taking a redundant precaution, especially considering the fact that we have zero active cases on campus as of the day of the announcement. Though this number may be aided by current precautions, to act like Calvin has a “bubble” where we are sealed off from the outside world is simply untrue. Calvin students – myself included – still come into contact with those outside of the Calvin community almost daily. I don’t see how allowing students to go home for Easter would change a thing.
Lastly, one of the most important things we can do surrounding Easter is something that has been oft reinforced by Calvin faculty members in classes I have taken here: contemplation of the magnitude of Jesus’ life and His self-sacrifice on the cross. By making us attend classes on Good Friday, Calvin is cheapening those actions by reducing them to a secondary thought in a day that it now considers to be a “normal” day of class. If Calvin wants to try to encourage us to avoid traveling for Easter, they can do that, but forcing us to attend class on Good Friday is simply unchristian.
In summation, I am surprised, disappointed, and saddened to see what Calvin administrators, as professing Christians, have done to such an important day in the life of the church. I strongly implore that Calvin reconsiders its decision and the message it will send to the Calvin faith community.
With grace and hope,