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(Don’t) give us a break — shorten time off in winter

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | JANUARY 19, 2010 7:30 AM

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Near the end of every winter break, something odd happens. A spark of desire to get back to school begins to grow in the heart of many students.

As odd as it may sound for the typically lazy college student to look forward to the end of a month-long break, there is a perfectly good explanation: A month is just too long.

Rather than having students sulking in utter disgust at the thought of wasting a week just trying to stay warm, UI officials should cut the last week of winter break off and let us enjoy an extra week of summer.

A shorter winter break may hinder some travel plans. But if three weeks is enough time to learn human anatomy, it is enough time to travel. On top of that, not much academic restructuring would be needed. The winter session runs for three weeks as it is, so the class schedules wouldn’t be negatively affected.

The benefits are obvious. School would be out earlier, so students and faculty could start enjoying their summer vacations just a bit earlier.

This kind of calendar isn’t rare. Students at some schools in the Big Ten, such as Indiana University, returned to classes last week in exchange for an extra week of warmth. University of Northern Iowa students will also kick back to catch some rays and laugh while we are still buried in books preparing for finals. And Iowa State will be out of school a week earlier than UI students as well.

We should learn from our peers.

Winter break is unique. There is something about the holiday season and the extended amount of time off that separates the vacation from the others. That novelty wouldn’t be threatened, however.

Students would still get three weeks off, which is longer than any other break during the normal academic year. So fear not. Winter break would still be winter break.

UI junior and Naperville, Ill., native Erin McCutcheon came back to campus two weeks ago. She said she enjoys being home for the holidays, but it doesn’t take long for boredom to set in.

“Four weeks at home is a little too long,” she said. “[Having only three weeks off] would make winter break more tolerable, and it would make the transition back to classes easier because there would be less time in between academic sessions. It would be much easier to get back into school mode.”

A number of other students we talked to agreed with McCutcheon. They said boredom, aggravating parents, and their love of Iowa City drives their desire to be back. And by the time summer rolls around, they want nothing more than to finish classes and sit poolside or enjoy the outdoors.

We see no reason the UI administration should not at least consider the change. UI spokesman Tom Moore was unavailable for comment on Monday.

UI officials should determine the plausibility of a truncated winter hiatus and should survey faculty, staff, and students to get an idea of where the majority opinion lies.

For us, summer is summer. And winter is too cold to sit around waiting for class to start.


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