Thanksgiving break is the first long weekend that students get to potentially spend with their families after Labor Day. Approximately twenty percent of UT’s students are either out-of-state or international students who need to travel — most likely by plane — to visit home. Many out-of-state and international students aren’t able to enjoy the full four days of the break with their families.
UT students have classes on Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving, which means they often can’t go home until Wednesday morning. Most students traveling by plane book their tickets in advance to avoid the high cost of last-minute plane tickets. Since students may not know what academic commitments they have on the Monday and Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving, they have to book their flights for Tuesday night or Wednesday just to be safe.
Out-of-state and international students also have to fly back Sunday to make it to class Monday. This gives them a possible three full days with their family. Many universities comparable to UT, such as the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Ohio State University give students a four-day long Thanksgiving break as well. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Thanksgiving break begins on Saturday, Nov. 17 and classes don’t resume until Monday, Nov. 26.
UT students should get a full week off for Thanksgiving break. If the University is unable to grant this, professors should at least make it possible for international and out-of-state students to miss these days by not assigning quizzes, exams or other major assessments on those days.
Afeef Sheikh, a mechanical engineering sophomore from Seattle, said if he knew he would not have exams on the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving, he would leave on the previous Friday to get the whole week with his family. Right now, he only gets to spend three days with his family in the fall semester.
Sheikh pointed out that in the Spring semester, students are given a full week off from school. This allows nine days to travel, unwind, be with friends and family and recharge. Students deserve this same time to recover during the fall semester, and getting a week off for Thanksgiving would give us this time. If it is an issue of meeting a required number of days in class, the University can take two days off of students’ long winter break.
If this isn’t feasible, there are other possible solutions.
Professors have the freedom to decide when they schedule quizzes and exams. They can choose to assign work during Thanksgiving that can be easily made up if students choose to go home for the whole week. If students knew they would not have exams scheduled on the week of Thanksgiving, they would be able to miss class during that week. Having that knowledge makes it possible for students to book their flights ahead of time without being concerned about missing major assessments.
International and out-of-state students who fly home would have the freedom to spend a whole week with their families instead of only three days. It would obviously be students’ responsibility to make up the work they missed, but by intentionally not scheduling exams during that week, professors would give students the chance to spend that time with their families instead.
The University should introduce policies that allow international or out-of-state students the choice to go home for the full week. This could look like an extended Thanksgiving break to give students the whole week off. If students can’t get a weeklong break, professors should make it possible for students to miss the two days before Thanksgiving break without having to miss exams or other important assignments.
Dighe is a Plan II and neuroscience sophomore from Houston.