At last Monday’s faculty meeting, a working group tasked with examining changes to the fall semester academic calender announced that a weeklong Thanksgiving break would not be feasible for the 2013-2014 academic year.
“A lot of time and energy has been spent on this issue by many folks,” said Margaret Hazlett, senior associate dean of student affairs. “I hope there’s a benefit down the road for students.”
The working group received overwhelming support from students and faculty about the idea of extending Thanksgiving break. However, support for other changes to the calendar was inconsistent.
“If we’re adding two days of break to Thanksgiving, they have to come from somewhere,” said Scott Sehon, working group chair and professor of philosophy. “We’re not talking about just cutting two days of classes from the schedule; the question is where they would come from.”
Possible rearrangement options included starting the school year earlier, shortening reading period, and even compressing Orientation.
“There are several different places from which we could get a day and then there are all the combinations whereby we could get two days,” said Sehon. “Each of them has advantages and disadvantages.”
The working group found that cutting down Orientation would be especially problematic as next fall the College will introduce its online course registration program, Polaris.
“It seems really unwise to do anything this year that would give us less time to deal with glitches in the registration process,” said Sehon.
The idea of extending Thanksgiving break was in part proposed to appeal to the increasing population of students from outside New England. The full week would make travel easier and more financially viable.
“We thought it was an attractive idea because it’s at least, arguably, family friendly. It’s nice to be home for that holiday,” said Sehon.
Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) advocated strongly for a Thanksgiving break extension this past fall. BSG organized a demonstration in favor of the proposal, that resulted in the formation of the faculty working group.
“I’m happy with the progress that we’ve made,” said Dani Chediak, BSG president. “Of course I would’ve loved for the calendar committee to come back and present a motion that would be voted on at the next faculty meeting. But that’s not necessarily the pace that our school usually runs at.”
Though Thanksgiving break will not be extended next year, the proposal has not been shut down completely. Particularly, changes to the start of the school year will continue to be examined.
“Any options compressing registration period were off the table for this fall but we didn’t think they should be off the table permanently,” said Sehon.
“I’m a huge proponent of trying to get a few days at the front end so students can have a fuller first week of classes,” said Hazlett.