Although Thanksgiving Break may not have officially started until the morning of last Wednesday, many students and faculty across campus missed or canceled Tuesday classes. 

In order to determine how widespread this phenomenon is, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) President Chris Breen ’15 confirmed in an email to the Orient that BSG will soon be sending out a survey concerning Thanksgiving Break to determine how many professors cancelled classes and how many students skipped classes. The information could, as in previous years, lead to more discussion of changes to the fall semester schedule.

Camille Serrano ’18, from Olathe, Kansas, ended up coming back from break this past Tuesday instead of Sunday to reduce the cost of her five-and-a-half hour flight home.

“The main reason why I [skipped Monday and Tuesday] was that it was a lot cheaper…to fly when it’s not the day before Thanksgiving,” she said.

Even after her longer break, Serrano still arrived in Kansas at midnight and left at 4 a.m. for her flight back to Maine, bringing homework with her from the classes she missed.

“A good amount of people leave early anyway. It would just benefit everyone I feel if [the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving] we just didn’t have class,” she said.

Although many students left last Tuesday, most classes remained in session. Most, like Professor of Government Paul Franco, who held his Tuesday afternoon class, stuck to the schedule.

“[The Tuesday before Thanksgiving] is an official part of the school calendar; therefore, I show up on the days they tell me,” Franco said.

However, he expressed sympathy for students who had to miss Tuesday classes.

“There is a bit of case-by-case consideration there. I understand people have a long way to go.  It’s a very short time to make such a long trip,” Franco said.

 In 2012, the BSG proposed a schedule change that would have moved the start of first-year Orientation to Saturday instead of Tuesday—lengthening the program by a day and freeing up the Tuesday and Wednesday of that week for classes. These two days would take the place of the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving Break. BSG organized a protest outside of a 2012 faculty meeting to promote this proposal.

In a letter to the editor sent to the Orient, BSG members wrote that the change would solve “a hectic Orientation, an even crazier Phase II registration, and a financially taxing break schedule.”

Because of a number of concerns including interference with exam preparation and summer faculty research, no change came from the proposal.

“Any time you deal with our calendar, it’s a house of cards of sorts,” Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster said. “I think the timing of when Thanksgiving falls is not ideal in that it falls so late in the semester. You have 12/13ths of the semester over, then you take this pause and people return to sprint to the finish.”

Unlike Spring and Fall Breaks, which give students time off in the middle of each semester, Thanksgiving Break comes only two weeks before reading period.

 “I find [the break now] kind of disruptive to the rhythm of the class, especially because you have such a short amount of time after Thanksgiving with only two weeks left to go,” Franco said.  “[With a longer break] you have less time to get back into the groove after Thanksgiving holiday.”

Other New England colleges do give students a full week of break, yet maintain similar exam schedules to Bowdoin. Amherst, Bates, Hamilton and Yale are among some of the schools with reading and exam periods that nearly parallel Bowdoin’s. Colby, on the other hand, has a short Thanksgiving break like Bowdoin and begins its reading and exam period almost a week earlier.

Despite being out of classes, students often have to complete homework and prepare for upcoming exams. For the 62.3 percent of students from outside of New England—a percentage that has risen within each class by over five percent over the past four years—the problem rests in the financial and time costs of traveling home for such a short period. 

“As a teacher, a pedagogue, I like the fact that it’s a shorter break,” Franco said.  “As a fellow human being, I understand, especially for people who have longer travel.”

“There’s not any current discussion [with the calendar committee or any other committee of the College] I’m aware of in terms of extending the Thanksgiving Break,” Foster said.  “I know there’s interest on the part of students. There has been interest for the past…five or so years.”