Libresco: Time for a real break

Apocalypse Next

Spring break starts tomorrow, but it doesn’t feel like a break to me. With final papers looming (and summer job applications I’ve fallen behind on), my two weeks are already booked. Spring break isn’t really a vacation; it’s just two weeks of work without classes or community. When will Yale learn? I don’t want a scheduled spring break, I want snow days.

When I was in high school, snow days weren’t just something that happened to friends at less relentlessly stoic schools. They were often some of the best days of the year; I wrote stories, went sledding and made Fimo clay figurines of the entire Gryffindor and Slytherin Quidditch team. A snow day is found time that doesn’t come with enough notice to let you schedule in routine activities. Yale should try to incorporate this kind of free time into the school year, in a better way than Spring Break does.

Imagine if Yale called off school for a day regardless of weather. Imagine a day of unexpected leisure at some point during the semester, chosen at the whim of President Levin, with e-mails to that effect going out late the night before. Currently, Yale avoids snow days in large part because losing a day disrupts the schedule of classes, so imagine President Levin called off an entire week instead.

I’ll admit, this scenario is more than a little absurd, and we’ve come to a sorry state when moments of spontaneity need to be scheduled by Yale. But the payoff might be well worth the mocking we would get on Ivygate.

For instance, an unexpected week off would allow for impromptu concerts and give enough free time to shoot a music video with friends (even without the Yale admissions office footing the bill). On my own, I’ve had a wonderful time spending Saturdays in the Berkeley woodshop building giant articulated wings for a Halloween costume and working afternoons in the machine shop soldering a ray gun.

Time for creativity is critical, especially when classes in acting, writing and design are capped and difficult to get into (my glassblowing class this term has only five slots). While Yale offers a plethora of opportunities for creative exploration outside the classroom, most people are too overscheduled to really make use of them. For instance, I seldom get to work on large-scale collaborative projects, since it is impossible to get a group of extracurricularly diverse friends to show up at the same place at the same time even with the help of Doodle and other online calendars.

My current solution is to sign up for activities at the end of term that will keep me here through Commencement. Producing shows and costuming actors lets me satisfy my yen for theater and buys me an additional week and a half of free time with my friends for impromptu film festivals, collaborative satirical songwriting sessions and far too many games of Settlers of Catan. But I shouldn’t have to sneak in and out of a senior’s abandoned room to find the time to work on creative projects with friends.

It’s time that Yale recognized that we don’t need vacations from academics or learning, just breaks from our routines and time constraints. And if President Levin gives me time to work on my trebuchet with my friends, I promise not to aim it as his house.

Leah Libresco is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College.

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