Thanksgiving is generally associated with eating too much turkey and pumpkin pie and spending time with family. But for students at the University, it’s also associated with either skipping class or being a part of the overwhelming rush to leave campus the night before the holiday. Holding class on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving isn’t productive for students or professors. Wednesday classes make enjoying the holiday more difficult for the many members of the University community who leave Ann Arbor for the long weekend. In the future, the University should schedule Thanksgiving break to start before Wednesday evening to allow students more time to travel home.

This year, and in years past, the University’s Thanksgiving break begins on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Many other peer institutions start their break earlier. The University of Notre Dame doesn’t have class on Wednesday this year. Neither does Purdue University. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Pennsylvania State University get the entire week off. It’s notable that none of these schools have as large a percentage of out-of-state students as the University of Michigan does.

The fact that about a third of University students reside out-of-state accentuates the need for extending break. Thanksgiving Eve and Day are usually the busiest travel days of the year. Expecting roughly 8,000 undergraduates to start the trip back home on the day before Thanksgiving is — at the very least — impractical, especially since Detroit Metro Airport is bound to be packed and traffic on the roads will be heavy.

But this problem doesn’t only affect out-of-state students — many in-state residents who live across Michigan face lengthy drives home on the afternoon or night before Thanksgiving. Cancelling class on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving would allow students to circumvent holiday travel problems. Additionally, it would encourage students to do their driving while it’s still light out, removing inexperienced drivers from the road at night during heavy traffic.

But not all students brave classes on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Many students decide to skip class in order to allocate adequate time for travel. As a result, both students and professors lose — students may miss important instruction and professors aren’t able to make full use of the class days they need to teach material. This is an unnecessary waste of resources for all parties involved. Extending break would eliminate these costs and increase the efficiency of instruction at the University. Students wouldn’t have to sacrifice a day’s tuition for a lower flight fare.

Plenty of other schools have found a way to extend Thanksgiving break without taking away the school days required for adequate instruction — the University can, too. The day of class could be replaced at many different places in the academic calendar. The University could cut a day from the fall study break or extend the semester by a day in December.

Holding classes on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is unnecessary and inconvenient. The University should explore alternatives to this travel hassle. Both students and faculty would benefit from a change that wouldn’t be difficult to implement.

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