The two weekdays on campus before the start of Bowdoin’s Thanksgiving Break are surreal. Professors announce “sick days” well in advance. Class attendance plummets. The dining halls are conspicuously empty, and students who live close enough to drive start taking off by Monday afternoon.

In the last three years, the faculty has rejected two separate proposals by the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs and BSG respectively, that would have extended Thanksgiving Break to a full week and moved up the beginning of the academic year by two days. Faculty members voiced concerns that the plans would hinder their summer research and would be unfair to students who would not be able to afford a week-long trip home for this holiday. We do not feel that the faculty acted in the best interest of all students in making their decisions. 

While the faculty’s arguments for vetoing a longer Thanksgiving Break are not invalid, they are a selective reading of the facts. The proposal would indeed lessen professors’ research time by two days at the end of the summer, but it would also give students and faculty four extra days for Thanksgiving Break. And although lengthening the break to nine days would leave a few students on a quiet campus for a longer period of time, it would also grant about an additional 20 percent of the student body the opportunity to share Thanksgiving dinner with their loved ones. According to a survey conducted by the College in 2011, 84 percent of respondents said they would be able to travel home during a week-long break, compared with the 64 percent who said they would go home either way. The percent of students from outside New England has increased from 62 to 66 percent just between the Class of 2017 and the Class of 2018. For the extra Bowdoin students who could see their families those few days would make all the difference.

Without faculty approval for a schedule change, students and professors currently get the worst possible outcome. Classes empty out on the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week as students from outside the Northeast vote with their feet and schedule earlier flights home. In seminars, the absence of only a few people significantly affects the quality of discussions, while some professors cut back on lesson plans or cancel their lectures altogether. Those who do fly on Wednesday are subject to the most expensive ticket prices, a schedule too tight to account for weather emergencies and the threat of delays on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

This issue has been in the minds of students for at least the last four years. The Orient editorial board has voiced its support for a longer break in 2010 and 2012. The faculty has repeatedly failed to consider how important this issue is to students. Thanksgiving is an important family holiday that is celebrated nationwide, and many students would undoubtedly appreciate the opportunity to spend it with their loved ones. 

After returning from this year’s Thanksgiving vacation, students quickly needed to get back into the swing of things. In the Bowdoin way, everyone greeted each other by asking how their breaks were. The common refrain given by almost every student was: “Too short.” It is time to re-examine the case for a longer Thanksgiving break.