When Georgetown University students return for the spring semester after winter break, they will not be allowed to enter their campus residences until the day before classes start.
After campus closes for winter break Saturday, Dec. 21, residence halls and apartments will not reopen until 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 7, but classes begin the very next day, Jan. 8. This schedule follows the same pattern every year.
Georgetown should reopen residence halls and apartments the Saturday before the spring semester begins to give students greater flexibility in travel plans and to provide an opportunity to readjust to the school routine before classes resume.
A one-day window to return in January requires students to find their way back to campus on that day specifically, no matter how expensive or difficult that may be. For students flying or taking a train back to Washington, D.C., greater flexibility in return dates would allow more route options, which is one of the best ways to find cheaper tickets, according to Forbes. Students should not have to pay exorbitant ticket prices to ensure they arrive on one particular day.
Students driving back to campus with parents or families could also use the extra days to return over the weekend, when it would be easier for many parents to take time to make the trip.
Once students arrive on campus, the current policy allows little time to readjust to an academic routine. With classes starting the very next morning, students have a short window in which they must settle back in and prepare to return to their busy schedules.
Jet lag imposes an additional burden on the many students traveling to D.C. from different time zones. Georgetown’s undergraduate population includes students from over 130 different countries and all 50 states. Since jet lag can affect anyone traveling across two or more time zones, students traveling to other countries or across the United States can experience this phenomenon. As jet lag actively impairs cognitive functioning, per a study by professors at the University of California, Berkeley, students could have difficulty learning at the beginning of the semester if they arrive from a different time zone the day before classes begin.
Thus, to increase travel flexibility and provide students with more time to readjust to their academic routines, Georgetown should allow students to return to campus at any time starting the weekend before the semester. This year, for example, residence halls and apartments could open Saturday, Jan. 4, at 10 a.m., leaving a four-day window for students to return to campus.
Currently, the university needs near-empty residences in January because campus residences and apartments are deep cleaned over the limited working days that occur during winter break, Director of Residential Services Bill Huff wrote in an email to The Hoya. Small adjustments to the process, however, would be well worth eliminating the financial and mental burden that the current policy creates.
The university should work with the Office of Residential Living to adjust the cleaning schedule over breaks so Georgetown’s campus can reopen the weekend before spring classes begin.
By only allowing students back into campus residence halls and apartments the day before classes begin, Georgetown limits their travel options, reducing affordability and creates additional stress as they rush to get back into their school routines. Students are busy enough as they prepare to return to campus, and inflexible travel plans should no longer be a factor exacerbating the difficulty of starting a new semester.