When Penn State stole Christmas break - The Behrend Beacon

When Penn State stole Christmas break

Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Author: Andrew Moulton (news editor)

The final stretch is here. One more week of classes and, for most of us, another week dedicated to finals. 

For Penn State students statewide, the fall 2012 semester ends on December 21. And, yes, that’s only four days before Christmas. 

Other state colleges across Pennsylvania have already begun finals week or have finished classes altogether. For instance, Slippery Rock begins their break at the end of this week, December 14, and runs up to January 28; almost a solid month and a half of break.

So, the question is, why does Penn State only have two weeks of vacation dedicated to Christmas break?

“We changed the academic calendar to allow the start of the spring semester to ‘float’ between the first and second Monday in January,” Karen Schultz, with the University Park registrar’s office, said.

Schultz said this decision was made to accommodate Martin Luther King Day and to make fall commencement prior to Christmas Eve.

The short break also leaves time between the end of the summer session and beginning of fall semester. This is adequate time to prepare for fall arrivals and orientation.

However, students across Penn State campuses feel constricted by the tight schedule this year

“I think that it is unfair to students who have to travel far to spend time with their families, and that Penn State could have better prepared to give us more than 16 days apart from classes,” senior Aaron Morelli said.

This time frame may also present a problem for students who must fly in order to reach their holiday destination.

“When the spring semester begins on the second Monday in January (as it did in 2012), it pushes everything in the year a bit later,” Schultz said. 

“The result is the late end for the fall 2012 semester. And when the following spring semester (2013) begins on the first Monday in January, the result is the loss of a week during the break between semesters.”

Semesters are normally 15 weeks long (not including the week-long breaks and finals). Schultz explained that the several week period between school sessions (spring, fall, and summer) offers adequate time for faculty and staff to prepare for the coming semester.

This campus-wide schedule congests the first half of the year, leading to an early end in the spring semester. But that’s not what students are concerned about right now.

“Our Christmas break being so short is extraordinarily inconvenient and even aggravating,” Alex Morelli, a sophomore at University Park, said. “After an extremely hard finals week where the only concern was studying, having a break from all your work is necessary.”

“Now, only having two weeks to recover and prepare for the next semester doesn’t meet that requirement. It’s bogus and quite frankly I don’t understand how they considered it acceptable.”