Students and professors work to balance class schedules and Thanksgiving break


Illustration by Micah Sandy

Students navigate some of the most expensive and busy travel days of the year toward the end of Fall Quarter.

Lenna Peterson and Talia Winiarsky

While some spend Thanksgiving morning sleeping in, preparing for dinner or running a Turkey Trot with family, Medill sophomore Izzy Lisco will be at O’Hare International Airport, boarding a 4.5-hour flight to make it home to Los Angeles in time for dinner with her family. 

Students who have class on Wednesday afternoon, including Lisco, and the Monday following the holiday weekend must navigate some of the busiest travel days of the year. The University allows professors to hold classes on Wednesday until 6 p.m., though some choose to cancel.

Chemistry Prof. Dayne Swearer, who teaches Chemistry 151, said he took a poll to see how many of his students had travel plans the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Upon seeing about 50% to 60% of his students did, he decided to cancel class. 

The quarter system and the course itself are demanding, which makes it challenging to cancel a scheduled lecture, Swearer said. Instead, he intends to post a video lecture covering what he would’ve taught in class.

“People can watch in their free time over the long holiday weekend, spend 15 minutes over the four to five days and still get the same content,” he said. 

Meanwhile, McCormick Prof. Ilya Mikhelson, who teaches General Engineering 205 and Electrical Engineering 202, said he always planned to give students the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off.

It was not a difficult decision for him to cancel class, he said. 

“(General Engineering 205) has been historically canceled on that day since before I started teaching,” he said. “And for (Electrical Engineering 202), I figured people could use a little bit of a break.”

Lisco said the University should not allow class to be held the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving. 

Lisco, who has a class at 5 p.m. that day, will fly to Los Angeles on Thursday morning because being away from home for the holiday is “not an option” in her family. 

“I’m going to be stressed that entire Thursday that I might not make it home,’’ she said. “If I get delayed by four hours, which is entirely possible, I’ll miss the beginning of dinner.”

While many of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences’ classes offered do not hold class the following week as students prepare for finals, NU lacks a universitywide policy for Reading Period, which begins Nov. 28 this quarter. Classes offered through Weinberg cannot give assessments nor require students to hand in work, although they can still hold class that week.

However, non-Weinberg classes typically have a normal schedule after Thanksgiving. Because of that, McCormick freshman Rohan Sohini said he won’t spend much time at home.

Sohini has class on Wednesday and again on the following Monday. He plans to take a flight to Houston on Wednesday at 8 p.m. and fly back to school at 5 a.m. on Sunday so he can attend his Monday lectures.

There was a huge price jump between the 5 a.m. flight and flights that were later in the day,” he said. “It jumped up hundreds of dollars depending on when you booked your flight.’’

Although Swearer is teaching a Weinberg class, he will still be holding class the week after Thanksgiving. The course material covered is “incredibly important” for the following class in the sequence, he said.

There are no consequences if the student is not physically present in class that week, he said, although learning in person is always beneficial.

“If a student wants to stay home for Thanksgiving, they’re entitled to,” Swearer said. “We’re not going to be taking any attendance during that week. And the students are free to watch it online.”

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Twitter: @LennaPeterson16 

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