Harvard’s got it. So do Brown, Columbia, and Princeton. Even the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell have it.
Yale and Dartmouth are the only Ivy League schools that do not give students a fall break. The Yale College Council recommended 20-1 Sunday night that Yale reconsider its policy.
YCC members are making plans to speak with University Secretary Linda Lorimer in the coming weeks.
Dean of Administrative Affairs John Meeske said a fall break would be extremely difficult to arrange, even though many agree that an autumn vacation is a good idea in principle.
YCC President Andrew Allison ’04 said the resolution addressed the negative effects of three months of uninterrupted work.
“We currently go 11 or 12 weeks without a break,” Allison said. “A fall break would relieve some of the stress.”
The YCC proposal recommended that any potential change to the Yale College Calendar “not infringe on the current configuration of Thanksgiving break.” In addition, the college residence halls would remain open to allow students to stay on campus.
Allison said that the YCC would suggest replacing the lost days by substituting a reading period day for a class day and adding a day onto the end of the year.
Meeske said administrators would consider a YCC proposal if it fulfilled all of the administration’s requirements.
But Meeske warned that the days lost in fall break would have to be made up in the same term, preferably on same day of the week.
An example of the problems that can cause can be seen in the spring semester, where implementing Martin Luther King day as a holiday has caused many logistical problems, Meeske said. The change interrupted the scheduling of lab space, a process crucial to many chemistry experiments.
“You get the idea of how complicated [trying to implement a fall break] becomes,” Meeske said.
In 1998, Yale experimented with a one-day fall break anyway. Though polls showed students were overwhelmingly in favor of the break when they furst returned to campus, many had changed their minds by the end of the semester.
“It was too disruptive,” Meeske said.
Meeske said other Ivies schedule their breaks with ease because they operate on the traditional calendar, which, according to a national survey from 1992, only 2 percent of colleges in the United States still use. This means that Harvard has its finals after winter break, something that nearly no one wanted when the Dean’s office polled students a decade ago.
Still, there are many other schools that manage to have both a fall break and squeeze exams in before the winter holidays. Meeske said that many schools, however, start before Labor Day. Others have a shortened Thanksgiving break, something Yale students were divided on in 1992 polls conducted by the University.
YCC Vice President Ryan Sheely ’04 said the resolution was, thus far, only a draft of what the YCC intends to discuss with the Yale College Calendar Committee.
“This is just a recommendation,” Sheely said.
While a fall break hasn’t been feasible in the past, Meeske said the YCC’s proposal would be welcomed as long as it preserved the number of class days and addressed the logistical problems.
The ideal solution, however, Meeske joked, would be if the American government took its cue from Canada and changed Thanksgiving to some time in October.