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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Ready, break!”

Yesterday was the first day off school since Labor Day, and the semester ends in less than a month.

In two weeks, students and staff have a pitiful four-day break for Thanksgiving, and once again, students will complain that classes will be in session on Wednesday. With upcoming finals to start thinking about, professors have a duty to instruct late in the semester, but unfortunately, this sucks much of the anticipation and joy out of Thanksgiving break. Thanksgiving is, of course, a holiday for repose and gratitude, but there’s not necessarily the time for these luxuries because there are tests and papers due immediately after the break. So much for downtime.

Luckily for students, Veterans Day conveniently arrived on a good day this year. While hopefully honoring military veterans in some form, everyone had the privilege of having a nice mid-week break, which is probably more necessary than a three-day weekend.

Mondays and Tuesdays are typically the most stressful days of the week, so with a gap between Tuesday and Thursday, there’s ample time for students to catch up on studying, personal time and sleep. With round two of midterms to worry about, the extra day can truly recompose stressed out students and lead them back to sanity. They can devote the additional 24 hours to schoolwork, socializing or even solitude. It doesn’t matter what they choose to do as long as they can finally have a moment to themselves.

Veterans Day is simply an example of a beneficial holiday for students, but everyone should, of course, recognize the significance of Nov. 11 before getting excited about the time out of class.

I would hope that everyone takes a moment to appreciate all that veterans have done, but it would be restorative for students to have a mid-week break every once in a while regardless of the presence of a national holiday.

Other countries have opted for more school breaks and Wednesdays off. According to the French Estate Agents Web site, many French schools have abolished Saturday school, switching to a new four-day system, with both Wednesdays and Saturdays free but shorter summer holidays. I personally experienced this during my summer study abroad program in Paris. The University of Paris Seven did not hold classes on Fridays. The children in my host family spent their Wednesdays at home instead of at school. 

In this way, students can have a breather between Monday and Friday, and they don’t even have to pay up for the reward on the weekends. This doesn’t necessarily mean U.S. students have to have every Wednesday off, but an occasional change of pace could be regenerative and motivating. Maybe students won’t feel like they’re constantly chasing a speeding train.

Many universities give students a fall break, which takes place in the middle of the semester. This year, the University of Michigan held fall break on Oct. 19 and 20, a Monday and Tuesday. Classes didn’t even start until September 8, nearly two weeks after the beginning of UA courses, and Michigan students were still given a break.

In 2000, the University of Colorado chose to add a four-day fall break in mid-October due to a significant increase in disciplinary cases and incidents related to stress, depression and even suicide among students in the months of October and November. The University of Colorado and many other universities have decided to take students’ mental health seriously by creating this downtime period, which can help students feel like they’re not constantly expected to excel academically. It would be nice of the UA to do the same.

When Johns Hopkins University eliminated its fall break this year, students expressed opposition and dissatisfaction, and rightfully so.

“”I really look forward to fall break, and the idea of waiting until Thanksgiving for a day off is disappointing,”” Lauren Pollack, a public health sophomore, told the Johns Hopkins Newsletter.

I can’t say I miss having a fall break because I never experienced it in the first place. If I had the holiday off and then had it taken away from me, I’d be upset.

Believe it or not, the Veterans Day break is less stressful than Thanksgiving break, which lends itself to a chaotic traveling period and expected family feuds of some sort. November is a busy time for students, so more time off class could actually be valuable for studying habits. Hopefully, the UA administration will learn from other educational institutions that occasionally grant mid-semester breaks of any kind.

— Laura Donovan is the opinions editor. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

 

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