Late start to the Holiday Season?

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Source: peacchioliresearch.com

Kaitlyn Tambasco, Managing Editor

With the semester now more than halfway over and the holiday season approaching, the upcoming winter break might be on many people’s minds. 

However, with finals ending just a few days before Christmas, students and faculty might be affected by the semester ending later than normal.

Senior Kate Thompson said she is not happy about the later schedule and felt that administrators did not take into account that students and faculty are busier during the holiday time.

“Ending classes and starting finals that close to Christmas puts more stress on faculty,” Thompson said. “Faculty have to put grades in instead of spending time with their family or traveling to their destination earlier to ensure they get there before the actual holiday.”

Associate Provost Robert Halliday said the college operates with three 16-week semesters in a calendar year, Spring, Summer and Fall. With those three adding up to 48 weeks of instructions, it leaves four weeks for breaks.

He pointed out that if there are no breaks between the Spring and Summer semester and the Summer and Fall semester, it can be grueling for both faculty and students. He said wherever breaks are implemented, only means knock-on effects. 

“It all really starts with two decisions, when the Spring term is going to start, and whether there will be any breaks between semesters,” Halliday said. “Those four weeks of break are a highly prized resource and if you put them all over the winter period then you have nothing to distribute to later.”

He emphasized that this semester will end about six days later than in years past. For example, the Fall 2018 semester concluded on Dec. 14 and the previous year the semester ended on Dec. 15. However, from that comes the Spring 2020 semester, which will start about six days later than in past years.

One factor that pushed this semester later is the break between the Spring and Summer semesters this year, in part to accommodate senior week, according to Halliday. 

“I guess the bottom line here is that the college’s calendar is an incredibly complex project with many moving parts and it is impossible to please everyone,” Halliday said. “If we start Spring semester a week earlier, then we have additional snow-removal costs, safety concerns and complaints that people did not get a real vacation over the winter break.”

Halliday said if there were no breaks between semesters then some faculty and students would work without breaks for 48 weeks straight. He added that if that was the case, the college would not have room to include pre-semester orientations, senior week and other events of that sort.

“I remember one year we thought we had it all sorted out and after weeks of work we came up with a schedule that seemed to satisfy everyone until we counted the weeks and realized we had 53,” Halliday said. “So we can blame it on the solar system, if the Earth went around the sun a week slower and gave us a longer year we could make it all work. Sadly, I don’t see that happening.”

Dean of Students and Campus Life Timothy Ecklund said he personally likes the later start of semesters, as it gives students the opportunity to finish up internships and summer jobs.

The way the schedule is placed this year gives students two full weeks of classes after the Thanksgiving break, which will benefit students, giving them more time to prepare for their finals, Ecklund said. 

“However, it does place additional pressure on faculty who want to submit their grades before the holidays,” Ecklund said. “I think for students traveling home the later end to the semester may complicate their holiday travel plans.”

Ecklund said he has not heard any concerns from students regarding the late end of the semester but said the office of student affairs is happy to assist wherever they can.


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