I’m in a great mood today.

You should be in a good mood too, even if you’re going to graduate soon. Why do I have so much joie de vivre, as we Americans say in bad French accents, often when we’ve had too much to drink? Deux words: “New Moon.”

No, that’s the new “Twilight” movie, which I definitely did not see, thank you very much. (It was sold out.) What I meant to say was: Winter break.

Let’s say that again: Winter break. Woo! It’s close! Tell your friends!

I told my friends and they said, “Dude, it’s not for another three weeks, chill out. And stop following us around. We don’t even know you.”

Well, it’s true that professors can schedule exams all the way up to Dec. 23, but you have to be dumb enough to take their classes in the first place. Most of us will head home in about two weeks. Some lucky folks will head home next week. And, as happens every year, Engineering students will have to stay here and continue to attend classes. Poor souls – but they knew what they were getting into when they decided quantum flux integrals were fun.

But that is not the issue here. The issue here is that I am shocked – shocked – that many students don’t share my excitement for winter break. Or spring break, for that matter. Many students think the Michigan academic calendar was designed by a bunch of squeaking chipmunks. Our winter break is short, our spring break isn’t in sync with other schools, and our summer break – well, our summer break is pretty nice. But students have had enough!

I get alarmed when students have had enough. Why? Is it because I know there will be riots on the Diag and sit-ins reminiscent of the Vietnam era? Or is it because I care deeply about public opinion? I think it’s a little bit of both. Also, I can expect someone to complain to the Michigan Student Assembly, which will panic and call for a campus-wide ban on some country.

So let me attempt to ease any unhappiness about the way things are run around here. The first thing we should do as students is realize that we are students and can’t do anything. I’m sorry, I hate to be pessimistic, but when it comes to the academic calendar, it’s set in stone. Throughout the years there have been numerous petitions to restructure it, and each petition has arrived at the same, sad fate: burned to shreds by the Board of Regents during their secret meetings.

Needless to say, you can’t just go around changing the academic calendar. Really, it’s prepared years in advance, probably in a dungeon. But you know what? We don’t need to change the calendar! It’s actually good as it is. Take winter break, for example, which is usually two to three weeks. Who cares if Michigan State gets a month? Many students don’t realize that the University has a very good reason for keeping break short: It pisses people off.

No, actually, the real reason is probably to stay competitive. For instance, Harvard has a break of just TWELVE days. So we’re pretty lucky. And in my high school, and probably lots of other high schools I could name if I wanted to, I got no more than TEN days. And public schools and colleges in the Upper Peninsula don’t even get a winter break. It’s always winter there. So I think it’s important to put things in perspective.

We lucked out on spring break, too, even though most people don’t realize it. It’s always confused me that students want to go on spring break with kids from Michigan State, Eastern Michigan University, their friends from high school, etc. Aren’t we supposed to look down on these people? Shove our degrees in their faces? Lose to them at football? Why we would want to “hang out” with them is beyond me. And you know they spend all their time working out anyway, so they look way better in swimsuits.

Let us relax, then, and enjoy our breaks. There will come a time when we’re swamped by our real-life jobs, and would give anything to have a little time off. But instead, we will have to keep working, and then go home to our children. It will be awful.

Will Grundler can be reached at wgru@umich.edu.

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