Next week, the Faculty Council Steering Committee will be voting on the Students’ Association’s recommendation from the fall of 2008 that the River Campus’s fall break be extended by one day to include Tuesday. Such an extension, however, would extend the length of the semester by one day so that the total number of teaching days does not fall below 70, the minimum according to New York State law. If an extra ‘day off” is going to be added to the semester, it should be placed at a more constructive time, such as extending the fall semester reading period by a day, which is currently a day shorter than in the spring.
The reasoning behind the SA’s suggestion is that an extra day would give students greater flexibility to travel and that, according to SA President and senior Eric Weissmann, it would be a ‘valuable mini-vacation.” This is in accordance with the reasoning behind the extension of the Eastman School of Music’s fall break in 2001; however, students of the College and students of Eastman have different scheduling needs, so the two schools’ schedules do not necessarily need to be in sync.
The SA’s proposal suggests that the additional day be added to the end of the semester rather than the beginning, but this may cause the semester to end too close to Christmas, not allowing faculty to grade final exams before the holidays. Thus, the most likely compensation for an extended fall break would be to begin the semester one day earlier.
The discrepancy between reading period length in the fall and spring results from the greater freedom in the spring as to when to end the semester. The Faculty Council Steering Committee should consider in their vote next week whether the extension of fall break by a day would be the most beneficial use of an extra day off. Final exam period is a stressful time for the majority of college students. The addition of an extra day to study before fall semester final exams would thus be more advantageous than extending fall break.