Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
The fall semester always seems reasonable enough–just six weeks from its start until october break, and then another six weeks until Thanksgiving, then classes end, finals come and go, and it’s winter break! Contrast that with the spring semester–never underestimate the effect of taking away that thanksgiving mini-break and tacking on an additional week of classes (the fall is thirteen weeks; spring is fourteen)–and suddenly spring is intimidating. Which is precisely what concerned Etan Cohen ’07 of Student Council, leading to his proposal to institute a “Thanksgiving in the spring.”
The idea is just what it sounds like: about five weeks prior to the end of exams in the spring, students would have off the Thursday and Friday. These two days would be made up exactly like the actual Thanksgiving holiday is, by following the “Friday” schedule on the Monday and the “Thursday” schedule on the Tuesday of reading week. Finals then, instead of starting on Thursday after reading week, would be shorter and start the following Monday and run through Saturday, keeping the length of reading week intact.
Cohen explained in an email the reasoning behind his proposal as being beneficial to students: “Through conversations with fellow students I’ve come to sense that the spring semester has been more stressful on students. For first-year students, for example, this is the first semester receiving grades at Swarthmore or even more stressful, for seniors, the spring semester involves studying for honors, finding a job, and most importantly, preparing for the real world. “
“Thanksgiving break allows the Swarthmore student to catch-up on class readings, finalize applications for jobs and internships, reflect on time management, organize class materials, relax, sleep, and meet with family. My hope is that the proposed break in the spring would accomplish all the above and to an extent would be much more valuable as the spring semester is one week longer than the fall semester.”
As of now, the proposal is completely written, and awaits a few logistical questions (such as what happens with shortening finals period). From there, Cohen hopes to, with Student Council representatives Brian Chen ’07 and Ilya Faibushevich ’07, discuss with deans and faculty the final proposal, which then would need a faculty vote to be approved.
Ideally, the vote would happen as early as this semester, so the changes can take effect next semester, but it is likely that students will have to wait until spring of 2008 for their new break, should the proposal be passed.