Posted on Friday, Dec. 14

Responding to concerns that the University’s winter break is too short and forces students to overpay for airfare, the Michigan Student Assembly launched an online petition on Monday asking the University to add an extra week to winter break and start spring break a week later.

The change would be offset by an extra week of classes at the end of the semester.
This year, the last day of exams falls on Dec. 20, and students must return to Ann Arbor for the start of the winter semester on Jan. 3.

LSA sophomore Alex Jiga, co-chair of the academic affairs commission, said the University’s break doesn’t give students enough time to rest and visit with friends and family.

“Students need time not only to spend with their families over the holidays, but also to recuperate and prepare for a new semester,” Jiga said.

As of last night, about 3,700 students had signed the petition.

“We want to show the administration that students are passionate about these changes,” said Public Policy junior Max Nowak, co-chair of MSA’s Academic Affairs Commission, which sponsored the petition.

“What better way than to have a student-based grassroots effort that we can bring to the table to show how much we care about this issue?”

Lester Monts, the University’s senior vice provost for academic affairs, said the University would consider the proposal but would have to determine how the change would affect factors like faculty meeting times and energy costs before making a decision.

Nowak said making winter break a week longer would ease the financial burden on out-of-state and international students who buy airline tickets to return home for break.

He said students often pay two or three times the average cost of airfare because they’re flying on days during the busy holiday season when travel costs are much more expensive. According to online airfare estimates from Northwest Airlines, a return flight from New York’s LaGuardia Airport or from Los Angeles International Airport costs $100 more on Jan. 2 than on Jan. 9.

“Just by pushing back when students return to campus by a week, I would hope that flights would be significantly cheaper,” Nowak said.

The petition also asks the University to push spring break a week later so it aligns with spring breaks at most other colleges.
The University of Michigan’s break is scheduled this year from Feb. 23 to March 3, while break at Michigan State University and Western Michigan won’t start until the week of March 3. The University of Wisconsin at Madison, University of Iowa and Wayne State University begin spring break on the week of March 17.

Monts said the University chose the week of Feb. 23 because it aligns with the spring break dates for local school districts like Ann Arbor Public Schools.

“For years, we’ve tried to line up that break during the second semester with local school systems because so many of our staff have children in the schools, which we have to consider as well,” he said.

Business School senior Matko Maravic, who travels home to Croatia each winter break, said travel time to and from Croatia cuts almost two days out of his break, and an extended break would allow him to spend more time with his family.

“With jet lag and everything cutting down time I get at home, I think extending break would be great,” Maravic said.

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