Changes to winter break? No thanks

Alan Duff

Change comes in many flavors, and coming next year we may lose the winter break that everyone knows and hopefully loves. A recent survey by the Winter Break Committee was released asking what exactly students do over winter break, and if we would like it to be changed in a number of ways.

Unlike most schools, which are on a semester schedule, we have a longer, fuller, winter break. The longer break allows students to work or set up a job for the winter, see family and friends for longer periods of time and have a vacation that takes more than a few weeks.

This is why Lawrence’s winter break is great. A whole month and some change allows these longer plans to be facilitated, while ensuring we don’t have too long of a break so that we forget information.

Many students I know from semester colleges have balked at how long of a break we get. To which I have pointed out that Lawrence doesn’t give more days off compared to the average university on a semester schedule. The structuring is the only difference.

We combine what a semester school’s Thanksgiving and winter break is instead of separating them. This is possible because we have shorter terms, and I believe it is to the benefit of all Lawrence students.

Unlike students who have to worry about papers and finals over Thanksgiving, we have a truly relaxing holiday that we can spend with our family and friends. Instead of writing papers while passing the gravy and using the pen as a second utensil, we get to enjoy time with our loved ones, stress-free.

Another advantage of our current winter break is its timing. With our current winter break schedule, Lawrence lines up with most other trimester-based schools. Students with friends from these colleges and universities have more time to socialize with these friends who also experience the same class structure that Lawrentians do.

While we don’t have exactly overlapping schedules with most semester schools, I don’t see it as an issue. Our trimesters define a part of the education philosophy at Lawrence, and I think it’s important to respect and acknowledge those differences.

I am sure the Winter Break Committee is taking into account all of the advantages and disadvantages of our current winter break, as represented in the student survey. Factors like the break’s length and timing, and the trimester schedule are undoubtedly being considered if the committee’s survey is any indication.

While I hope there are no drastic changes, I have to acknowledge that they may be inevitable. If so, there are some things I hope the committee considers.

First, how would a shorter break impact those who work, if they had less than a month’s break? Would employers be willing to hire for so short a period?

Would students be able to do the same study abroad programs Fall, Winter and Spring Terms, or would we lose some of those opportunities with changes?

Right now, I’m content with our winter break as it is. It offers enough time for students to enjoy the holidays, work and travel without stress. It also covers the entire holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, allowing students to keep busy in some fashion.

Whatever is decided, I hope Lawrence decides to permit students enjoy their holidays without stress and work.