A disjointed policy regarding the week of Thanksgiving break leaves Georgetown University students frustrated and stressed.
Under current policy, Georgetown observes a four-day weekend for Thanksgiving, cancelling classes on the holiday and the Friday after. The Wednesday before, however, carries a full academic schedule.
This policy, much maligned by students and frequently ignored by professors who sometimes cancel class anyway, is simply unnecessary. Georgetown should cancel all in-person classes on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, while granting professors the option to host an online class or assign out-of-class work.
As of now, professors can withhold a decision regarding their Wednesday class until mere weeks or days prior to the holiday. This process disadvantages students flying or taking a train home. As professors deliberate on their decision, ticket prices rise and students must decide if just a few days at home is worth the elevated costs of transportation.
Ticket prices jump 27 percent the week before Thanksgiving, according to a report in Time. The article also notes that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the two priciest days to travel — the other being the Sunday after the holiday. Giving students the option to travel on Tuesday night creates another significant opportunity to save money.
While a Tuesday flight or train is certainly not uncommon under current rules, students should not find themselves choosing between an affordable ticket and attendance in class.
Changing the policy of holding Wednesday classes would also signal to the student body that Georgetown is taking Thanksgiving seriously as an opportunity for a real break.
Thanksgiving break is the first real rest period of the semester: “Fall break” is only three days, hardly enough time to catch up on homework, let alone relax at home.
For students who travel for Thanksgiving, a day to travel would be a much-welcomed and much-needed cushion. For students staying on campus, a five-day vacation would certainly provide more opportunity for recovery than a glorified long weekend.
Georgetown students would also benefit from a period of relaxation over Thanksgiving break. Three full months into the year, students — especially freshmen, many of whom are away from home for the first time — would relish the opportunity to reset.
The University of Pennsylvania, which has the same Thanksgiving break as Georgetown, has been criticized on mental health grounds for giving students minimal time off, according to its independent student media organization, The Daily Pennsylvanian.
Other universities, including Georgetown’s neighbors in Washington, D.C., and our fellow Jesuit institutions, have more sensible Thanksgiving policies. American University, The George Washington University, Fordham University and College of the Holy Cross all cancel classes on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, while Howard University ends the day at noon.
Forbidding professors to convene Wednesday class is not a radical deviation from current procedure; in fact, this policy would codify what many classes already practice.
Cancelled classes are required to make up for missed time, according to an interview with the university registrar. In practice, this work often takes the form of an online class or assignment.
University implementation of this editorial board’s common-sense suggestion would simply create clear structure, letting students and professors plan their vacations earlier and creating a real opportunity for mental rest.
By unifying school policy, the university will reduce the anxiety that often surrounds Thanksgiving break. Professors would not lose instructional time, students both leaving and remaining on campus would reap important benefits to their mental health, and families awaiting homesick students would avoid the headaches of last-minute planning.
The confusion leading up to Thanksgiving break is entirely fixable. The university should adopt this practical change — and it should do so soon. Let students buy their tickets today.
The Hoya’s editorial board is composed of six students and is chaired by the Opinion Editor. Editorials reflect only the beliefs of a majority of the board and are not representative of The Hoya or any individual member of the board.