Thanksgiving break to be extended by one day in 2016

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Thanksgiving break will come early next year, but in exchange, an extra day of classes will be added to the fall semester academic calendar.

In May 2014, the Faculty Council approved a proposal to extend Thanksgiving break by one day, giving students the Wednesday of that week off. The legislation was then approved by the president, and in spring 2015, UT System concurred with the decision to allow for the extra day. Student Government also passed a resolution in the 2014–2015 assembly in support of an extended Thanksgiving break.

According to Shelby Stanfield, vice provost and registrar at the Office of the Registrar, the extended break will be implemented in 2016. Shelby said the council discussed the addition of a fall break ­­­— the equivalent to the week-long spring break ­— when the proposal to extend Thanksgiving break came up, but there are not enough days on the academic calendar to fit in more days off.

“We really didn’t even have one extra day to work with, so to add the extra day the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we actually had to move the semester toward the end to put the extra day at the end of the semester,” Stanfield said.

“Currently, the final exam period runs Wednesday through Tuesday. Starting fall ‘16, the final exam dates will run Thursday through Wednesday. We shift everything down because we have to end the semester to do all the semester closeout and post final grades on that Friday before we go into the holiday break.”

Stanfield said the University is required by law to have a certain amount of school days, which is why a fall break is not possible.

“That’s why in fall ‘16, the last class day will end on a Monday instead of a Friday, because we had to pick up that extra day,” Stanfield said. “If you added any more breaks and started adding those days at the end, it would work in some years, but in other years you would bleed into Christmas day and we’re not going to do that.”

Education sophomore Sydney McCallister started a petition on change.org in support of having a fall break for a full week in the middle of the fall semester. The petition currently has over 100 signatures.

“In October, I felt really stressed and overwhelmed with schoolwork and stuff and I hadn’t seen my family in a long time,” McCallister said. “Having a fall break would be a good time to relieve that stress, go home, see family or just catch up on work.”

Alyssa Mathews, communication studies and political communications freshman, said not being able to have a long enough break in the fall means some students cannot go home until winter break.

“I know that a lot of students don’t go home to Thanksgiving because it is such a long drive,” Mathews said. “That is ridiculous to me! People who live in the same state as the University can’t even go home for Thanksgiving break because of how short it is.”

McCallister said if her petition gains enough signatures, she hopes it will make an impact despite restrictions on the academic calendar, since the hard-working students of UT deserve the break.

“In the end, we’re going to have Thanksgiving break anyway, but [having a fall break] would be like half-time for the year in order to calm down, get motivated and to finish off the entire rest of the semester,” McCallister said.