Students may find the few days before Thanksgiving more stressful this year than they have been in the past. After the last full week of classes, students get Reading Day on Saturday and start finals on Sunday. Finals will go through Tuesday night, meaning many students will have to travel home on the day before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel days of the year.
For the past six years, the last day of finals has been the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This gave students plenty of time before the holiday as finals schedules that were more spread out. There were only two days of class before Reading Day on Wednesday.
Senior Sam Stacklin, who lives in California, said that flying home on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, is, “extraordinarily expensive,” twice as expensive as it would be one day earlier.
Freshman Nora McGinn is also having problems with travel plans. “It’s more expensive to fly back during the week of Thanksgiving, especially to Boston,” she said. McGinn will have to pay 80 dollars more than she would if finals were earlier.
Even students who don’t have to travel long distances were unhappy with the scheduling of finals. Freshman Haley Beeson said that having only one day off before finals will be “really stressful.”
Stacklin was also frustrated by the short finals schedule. He pointed out that, unless the food service schedule is changed, there will be nowhere for students to eat breakfast before their Sunday morning finals.
The academic calendar is set by the Executive Committee, consisting of five faculty members, two students, the Dean of Students and chaired by Larry Breitborde, the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College.
According to Breitborde, the principle concern is getting ten weeks of classes in between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. This year fall term is ten full weeks, while in past years it has been less. This, combined with the late Labor Day this year, contributed to finals being closer to Thanksgiving.
Breitborde explained that when the academic calendar was being set, the issue of students traveling home on the day before Thanksgiving “was not brought up; it probably should have been raised.”
Although next year’s academic calendar is already approved, Breitborde is planning to bring this issue to the Executive Committee. Breitborde was sympathetic to students’ concerns, saying he has traveled on the day before Thanksgiving and “would never want to do it again.”
Breitborde included a section in his monthly written report to faculty raising the issue of students’ travel plans. The e-mail suggested that professors who are giving finals on Tuesday may want to talk to their students and figure out now if there will be any conflicts with students’ travel plans.
According to Breitborde, no one brought up the issue in the monthly faculty meeting on Monday.