Every year, come mid-December, the University celebrates as blue books are turned in and winter break begins. After the taxing demands of fall term, winter break provides students with much-needed solace, typically a two-week-long vacation when there are no traces of assignments or exams on the horizon. In years past, the annual recess has adequately quenched students’ thirst for relief, but with a later start and a shorter duration, this year’s break may leave students shortchanged.
Not only will this year’s fall term last four days longer than last year’s, but the 2005 winter term will begin a day earlier. Winter break is set to begin on Dec. 23, when the last exams will be administered, and will last until Jan. 5, when the winter term’s classes begin. That means for the unlucky students whose exam schedule will detain them until the bitter end, winter break will consist of a meager week and a half — hardly enough time for students to make anything meaningful of the vacation.
Compared to those of other schools, the University’s winter break is shamefully brief, and this coffee-break of a vacation poses a particularly daunting challenge for out-of-state and international students. Travel conditions in the days before Christmas become atrocious, as airfares escalate and congestion in airports and on highways reign supreme. Holding students captive in academia until Dec. 23 practically guarantees travel strife and inordinately high ticket prices.
What’s more, many students choose to return to their summer jobs during winter break, utilizing their downtime to earn a few extra weeks’ salary. Because few legitimate employers will want to hire a worker for less than two weeks, a more condensed retreat between fall and winter terms will only serve to hamper students’ opportunities to earn some extra money. With tuition and housing costs continually rising, University students need every chance they can get to ease the financial burdens of higher education.
While an extended timetable would be welcomed, students should by no means ask for a second summer vacation. University students do not need the Ivy League month-and-a-half vacation, and most likely, would prefer a relatively shorter winter vacation for their uniquely long summer. Winter break is for recuperation, not hibernation. Students only request a return to the reasonable scheduling of previous years. For instance, last year’s break defined practicality, beginning Dec. 19 and lasting just under three weeks. The University should take every effort to restore the responsible arrangements of the past and prevent any similar scheduling errors from interfering with students’ well-earned right to rest.