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Friday, December 08, 2023
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What’s so special about Wednesday?

UW-Madison students are frustrated with classes held until the day before Thanksgiving

The month of November signifies everything important to a college student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: spending weeks on the third floor of College Library studying for midterms, getting to the food trucks on State Street before they disappear for the winter and reassuring their parents they will make it home in time for Thanksgiving. 

The week before our pilgrim feast is perhaps the most stressful one of the semester. Most professors have classes listed until the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving on the syllabus. This creates a struggle for students who live far from campus or out-of-state as they decide the right time to go home. 

The current academic calendar marks both the holiday and the Friday after as time off. Labeling this as a “break” is a brazen slap in the face to many students who have to modify their transportation methods and spend an extra amount of time and money to make it back to campus after seeing their families. 

Another main issue is that professors are cast as villains for expecting students to show up to the class period before the break. Many professors are put into an awkward position because only a handful of students will show up. In turn, some modify their lecture or discussion for the day. This puts the entire class behind when returning from break and at a disadvantage for the following material covered before finals.

“My professor is holding a lecture on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I’m annoyed but thankful I live 15 minutes away. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know how to get home. I feel bad for my other friends who are skipping, not by choice,” said Asma Sulieman, a UW-Madison junior studying computer science. 

Sulieman acknowledged some students have it worse than others in this situation. Her major requires a lot of hands-on work, so being present in class is important. However, she sees how difficult it is for a professor to modify schedules and still align with the school’s policy regarding time off for Thanksgiving. 

Students at UW-Madison do not receive a traditional fall break like other schools. This is due to the state of Wisconsin’s tourism law in relation to public universities and their start dates. No public university is permitted to start classes until after Sept. 1. 

The solution to this problem is quite simple. UW-Madison should cancel classes the week of Thanksgiving in order to give students a well-deserved fall break and the ability to see their family members and hometown friends. Students should have the full week off to catch up on material pushed back during midterms and to prepare for finals season. It is in the best interest of all UW-Madison students and administration to extend the Thanksgiving break in the academic calendar. 

Hana Razvi is a junior studying journalism and strategic communications. Do you agree UW-Madison should not have classes the day before Thanksgiving? Send all comments to opinion@dailycardinal.com

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