Gates: Make Thanksgiving break longer


Matt Gates, Columnist

Making the decision whether to stay on campus or go home for Thanksgiving can be difficult. If your family celebrates the holiday, you would probably like to be home. Yet if you hail from outside the Midwest, you probably would prefer to not pay Thanksgiving airfare for a brief trip home. Maybe you are going abroad next year and want to enjoy America’s biggest fall holiday with family while you can, but this means spending time and money to go home for only a few days.

There are many factors at play when students decide whether to go home for break. However, Northwestern’s allotment of only two days for the break, Thursday and Friday, makes the decision unnecessarily complicated for students. The student body would benefit if NU extended Thanksgiving break to include Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Having classes scheduled on Wednesday makes deciding when to fly home difficult for students. Although the day before Thanksgiving is technically a school day on NU’s calendar, professors have been known to cancel classes on Wednesday. But some professors still hold class or even have final exam review sessions prior to the official 6 p.m. Thanksgiving break start time. Some students are left speculating about whether it is better to miss a class on Wednesday or try to travel home the night before a major holiday.

NU’s current schedule leaves many students trying to make their way home on one of the two worst days to travel all year (and possibly coming back on the other). The Wednesday before Turkey Day is considered one of both the busiest and the most expensive days of the year to fly. Although making it possible for students to travel earlier in the week will not enable everyone to go home for break, the money saved and time home gained could make a difference for a portion of the student body.

The school days lost by extending the break could easily be made up by starting the quarter slightly earlier. Many of us know the feeling of waiting to get to campus in September: Our high school friends have probably departed, we can’t wait to see our college friends and our internships or jobs are likely to have ended. For example, the Chicago Field Studies summer program ends on Aug. 14, and many internships outside the Midwest work on a calendar that aligns with semester schools. Starting the school day earlier would be beneficial to a majority of students.

Moreover, because professors often cancel classes on this fateful Wednesday and students sometimes skip classes that are held, having school a day early in September instead will provide another opportunity for instruction with most students present. Given the speed of the quarter system, this is likely to benefit NU students and professors alike.

NU’s current Thanksgiving break schedule creates unnecessary hassles for students who are considering going home and could be improved upon by trading several days off in November for a few days of school in mid-September. Whether you are going to spend Wednesday night waiting in line at security, ditch class to leave on Tuesday night or enjoy Thanksgiving with your fellow Wildcats on campus, you might be better off with a longer break.

Matt Gates is a Weinberg sophomore. He can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a letter to the editor to [email protected].