"Scheduled Pauses" & Pandemic Support - Grad Student Experience Survey

Were you able to take a break during the recent “pause”?

woman laying relaxed on her back, reading a book on a dock by the lake in summer Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

UWaterloo recently offered a two-day “scheduled pause” (March 15-16, 2021) for graduate students (and others) as a measure to encourage wellness and ease workload during the pandemic.

We already know from a myriad of research that even before the arrival of COVID-19, as graduate students we face heightened risk of severe stress and mental health issues. This is due to many factors, such as our nebulous social positions, lack of work-life balance, departmental contexts, and the typical organization of academic workplaces (e.g. see Garcia-Williams et al., 2014; Grady et al., 2014; La Touche, 2017; Levecque et al., 2017).

A real break?

That made the student organizers at OrganizeUW wonder - were our fellow graduate student workers able to actually take some much needed time off from their work and/or studies?

We'd like to know about your experience. Did you take time off? If so, how much? Did you feel you had to hide this fact? Or if these days were more like normal work days for you, what kind of tasks did you do instead of taking a break? And did you feel pressure to keep working?

Finally, we're interested in learning a bit about whether you've felt well-supported by uWaterloo during the pandemic overall, and which supports you'd find the most valuable that UW may not be currently offering.

Please take our anonymous 5-minute survey and let us know what you think!

Click here to take the survey!

Thank you! Your responses will help inform our advocacy for grad student workers at UW.




Evans, T. M., Bira, L., Gastelum, J. B., Weiss, L. T., & Vanderford, N. L. (2018). Evidence for a mental health crisis in graduate education. Nature Biotechnology, 36(3), 282–284. https://doi.org/10/gdjccv

Garcia-Williams, A. G., Moffitt, L., & Kaslow, N. J. (2014). Mental health and suicidal behavior among graduate students. Academic Psychiatry, 38(5), 554–560. https://doi.org/10/f6hpvd

Grady, R. K., La Touche, R., Oslawski-Lopez, J., Powers, A., & Simacek, K. (2014). Betwixt and between: The social position and stress experiences of graduate students. Teaching Sociology, 42(1), 5–16. https://doi.org/10/f5vn79

La Touche, R. A. (2017). Graduate students’ mental health: Departmental contexts as a source of differential risk [Dissertation]. Indiana University.

Levecque, K., Anseel, F., De Beuckelaer, A., Van der Heyden, J., & Gisle, L. (2017). Work organization and mental health problems in PhD students. Research Policy, 46(4), 868–879. https://doi.org/10/b4wm

Committee to Organize uWaterloo
Committee to Organize uWaterloo
supported by CUPE

The Committee to Organize uWaterloo is a grassroots campaign to unionize the academic workers at the University of Waterloo. The campaign is supported by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Canada's largest union.