We deserve a turkey week
By Andrés Oswill
California, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii—now, more than ever, students come to Willamette from all across the United States. As the University has gone from being a regional school, with most of its students coming from within the state, to one that recruits on a national and international basis, one thing has not changed—a two-day Thanksgiving break.
The duration of Willamette’s Thanksgiving break is about so much more than honoring some obscure historical holiday. For our students, Thanksgiving has become a financial concern, a safety consideration and an illogical impracticality that can be resolved for the benefit of all.
Currently, classes last until Wednesday afternoon, after which students have Thursday, Friday and the weekend for break. For many students and families, this places them in the difficult situation of trying to weigh students’ academic interests against the cost of a Wednesday night ticket home or a long, late-night drive.
A long drive on Wednesday night for students from the Seattle area, for example, is dangerous for a sleep-deprived student, and plane tickets become exponentially more expensive the closer it gets to Thanksgiving.
As a result, many students who decide to fly home choose to miss a full week of classes to justify the cost.
Some professors have attempted to adjust to the realities of student attendance during Thanksgiving week by offering extra credit class sessions or planning supplemental lessons that pertain to the course but may be more relaxed, such as relevant movies. But the reality is that the current break schedule places everyone in a bind.
To ease this tension, change is necessary.
In accordance with federal law, Willamette is bound to provide a certain number of hours of instruction for each academic credit.
If Thanksgiving break were changed to a full week, the missing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday would have to be compensated elsewhere.
There is no clear answer for where these days would be added. One idea recovers the days by starting the school year earlier, changing the first day of class from the last Tuesday in August to the second-to-last Thursday in August. Another would make classes start on the last Monday in August and push the last day of fall classes back two days to end on Tuesday instead of Friday.
Any change would cause a ripple effect across campus. Staff schedules might adjust, faculty might have to revisit lesson plans and students would have to accommodate the extra days into the end of the summer or the beginning of their winter break.
Any proposed change would only be suggested after careful deliberation with all groups that would be affected. However, despite these obstacles, the challenges surrounding the current Thanksgiving break merit that the situation be re-assessed.
In the end, whether any change is approved, students, faculty and staff deserve that the topic be critically assessed and that the best schedule for everyone is chosen. Email me with any questions or comments.