You shouldn’t be reading this editorial. It’s the day before Thanksgiving; you shouldn’t even be on campus. With the considerable expense and hassle of travel and the late-fall weather that always acts up around this holiday, the University’s insistence on holding classes the day before Thanksgiving is deplorable. Today is among the busiest travel days of the year and getting a flight out later today is prohibitively expensive, if at all possible. By holding classes until 5 p.m. the day before Thanksgiving, the University is essentially creating a structural barrier that leaves students no choice other than skipping class or not being home in time for Thanksgiving. Neither option is acceptable.
Unsurprisingly, most lecture halls will be significantly emptier than usual today. More than one-third of students at the University are from out of state, and Thanksgiving is a family holiday, after all. Students need and deserve at least one travel day before the Thanksgiving holiday, especially because many students will be going home for the first time since the school year began.
It is difficult enough to find transportation on packed buses, trains and planes, but when one factors in the small window of time during which a student can travel, the financial cost also becomes an issue. Because so many people need to travel during this time of year, ticket prices skyrocket, forcing students who play by the rules and go to class on Wednesday to pay exorbitant fees to get home. If the University canceled Wednesday classes, instead of just cutting them off at 5 p.m., students would have a little more flexibility to choose more affordable transportation.
Even President Bush has recognized the stresses of traveling just before Thanksgiving. Last week he announced a plan to allow commercial planes to fly in military airspace on specific days the week before Thanksgiving. The president’s efforts may help alleviate the travel burden during this time of year for most travelers, but the University must be the one to give students more options.
The University recently recognized and remedied another similar situation in its academic calendar. This year, the Winter 2008 semester will begin on Jan. 3 – another example of terrible timing that barely allows students travel time between New Year’s Day and the first day of the new term. As of Winter 2009, however, the University will not resume classes until Jan. 7.
Students deserve a similar break over Thanksgiving Break.