By JARED THOMPSON – STAFF WRITER
Everyone has reached that slump. You’ve written a paper for every class, you’ve spent countless hours tucked away in one of Grace Doherty’s cubbies, and you’ve finally kicked midterms right in the teeth. Now you just want to relax and spend a bit of time thinking about something that isn’t organic chemistry or precolonial Buganda.
While the good news is that fall break offers you this chance, the bad news is that you only get a brief reprieve from the pressures of Centre—the Thursday, Friday, and weekend following midterms.
Due to Centre’s admittedly short fall break, inevitable debates and complaining occur.
Main concerns are how the length is restrictive and students barely feel they have the ability to “get away” from Centre before they’re thrown right back into the back half of the semester. While it’s overly harsh to say these arguments aren’t valid, at the end of the day they are subjective and therefore difficult to use when justifying a scheduling change.
To be fair, the first part of this argument is essentially correct. Very few people are going to make the commitment to head to Daytona or Destin for what will most likely be a three day getaway. However, this keeps spring break on a pedestal as the break where you’re afforded the opportunity to have interesting experiences in a unique locale.
Instead, fall break becomes the brief reprieve you need without becoming excessive. It also creates a unique space in which you can plan different types of trips that might require more than a mere weekend but at the same time not fill the space allotted during spring break. Instead of making an entire road trip to Florida, people tend to make shorter trips to places like Gatlinburg, Indianapolis, or Red River Gorge.
Viewing fall break in this light, you can make the case that “not all breaks are created equal” and provide outlets for vastly different varieties of experiences.
Why not just have two longer breaks? Then the issue becomes one of scheduling within classes. Professors most likely will not sacrifice class time. This means that the missed Thursday and Friday class meetings will be made up at the end of the semester, lengthening the semester and necessitating the rearrangement of finals week. Ultimately, this eats into winter break, meaning you’ll still be getting the same amount of break, just in different locations on the calendar.
And even if professors somehow did agree to sacrifice class meetings, students would pay the price of having the same amount of material crammed into even fewer class meetings. This is problematic for a number of reasons, such as increasing the crunch around midterms and finals.
In addition, there is a more pragmatic concern for first-years. I believe that there is a real value in keeping the pace of college life fairly high, and that a longer fall break kills that tempo.
At the time of midterms, feelings of homesickness are finally being conquered and social circles are being solidified. Sending first-years home for an extended period of time, say a week, could reignite feelings of homesickness or general loneliness after having finally found a social environment in which they fit in. Keeping the pace of school fairly rapid until Thanksgiving allows for even more integration into college life, increasing the odds that none of these negative feelings resurface.
The positive consequences of having happy, integrated students radiates outward, decreasing the number of students who feel the need to utilize counseling services or feel that they may not “be cut out for” college. Ultimately, these issues are vastly more important than providing the space for an upperclassmen to take yet another beach vacation.
Centre is stressful. Not a controversial point there. I’m not sure there would be many students on campus that would necessarily complain about having more breaks or reprieves from the seemingly endless amounts of papers and exams. The fact of the matter, however, is that break time isn’t unlimited. If you want to add time to fall break, you’re going to have to cut it from somewhere else. The problem lies in reaching a consensus among students, faculty, and staff concerning how to rearrange the break schedule all for the sake of lengthening fall break by three days at the most.
Now, I’m not being a Grinch and saying that everyone should love school and never want a break. That certainly isn’t true either.
However, there are other forms of a “break” that could be implemented that I believe would be more useful to the student body as a whole. For example, a reading day before fall finals. This is an entirely other debate however.
So sure, we could spend our time hashing the fall break debate out and attempting to have professors and departments rearrange syllabi for the sake of a few more days of break. However, I’m just not convinced that in a world of midterms and GREs that this is a debate worth getting caught up on. It’s best to just keep grinding through the semester and remember that Thanksgiving break is just around the corner.