Second fall break offers limited campus activities

Though fewer University-sponsored activities will be offered during fall break this year than last year, Yale students are still planning to take advantage of the time away from their classes.

This year’s October recess, lasting from the night of Oct. 22 to the morning of Oct. 28, marks the second year that Yale undergraduates have had a fall break in the academic calendar. The Yale College Dean’s Office will offer three sponsored activities — late-night bowling, discounted movie tickets and free bus passes to the Westfield Connecticut Post shopping mall — compared to the 12 that were offered last year. Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry said that many students have already begun showing up to his office to buy tickets.

“We based this year’s offerings on the number of people that signed up and participated in the events last year,” Gentry said in a email to the News. “The discounted movie tickets, late-night bowling and bus passes to the mall were the top selections last year, and they appear to be popular again this year.”

Associate Dean for Student Organizations and Physical Resources John Meeske, who was involved in the planning of the fall break activities, said that the office deliberately offered fewer activities because feedback showed that students wanted to use the break to relax and not have to worry about making plans. Meeske added that he thinks students “felt that the break should be a break.”

Of 26 students interviewed, 14 said that they plan to remain on campus for all or most of the break. Only seven students said that they were either considering or had already made plans to participate in the YCDO activities.

Though students were generally satisfied with this year’s YCDO offerings, the omission of a discounted bus trip to New York City — which was highly popular last year — disappointed some students. Zobia Chunara ’16, who went on the trip last year, said she and many of her friends were hoping that the bus passes would be offered again. Although the trip was popular last year, Meeske said, the YCDO decided that the service was ultimately unnecessary.

“People can get to New York on their own,” he said. “It’s not something that we need to organize for them.”

Meeske added that a destination like the Westfield shopping mall requires more assistance, since most students have limited modes of transportation to smaller cities within Connecticut — whereas students can easily take a train or bus into New York City.

When fall break was first implemented in fall 2012, many students voiced concern about the shortening of the end-of-term reading and exam periods by two additional days. But this year, students responded more positively to the trade-off, with 21 out of 26 saying that preferred the break to a longer end-of-term periods.

Sam Faucher ’16, who is not planning on remaining on campus for fall break, deemed the choice between a break and a longer end-of-term period a “close call.”

“Going straight from the beginning of the year to Thanksgiving would be tough,” he said. “Although the shorter reading period is stressful, it’s equally disadvantageous for everyone, and exam curves might reflect that.”

But other students were not so favorable towards the break. Jéssica Leão ’16 said that she believes fall break shouldn’t exist because it “interrupts the flow of the calendar,” and Jay Kim ’14 said a longer reading period would offer more time to write papers. Kim added that she believes the shortened reading period is unfair to humanities majors who often have to work on papers that are due at the end of the period, while most non-humanities students only need to prepare for their exams.

Meeske said that he is aware of the complaints about the shortened reading and exam periods. Although everyone likes the idea of a fall break, he said, students have disagreed about whether the break is worth the cost of a shortened reading and exam period.

The YCDO is planning “serious discussions about the calendar” in the future, Meeske said, adding that the office will look for ways to somehow keep the break while also adding days back into the end-of-term reading and exam periods.

Over break, the residential college dining halls will operate on a reduced schedule, with six dining halls open for service from Wednesday through Saturday.

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