Despite 61-day marathon, fall break not part of MSU culture

Courtney Gilder

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During the fall semester, students, faculty and staff must go 61 consecutive days without a break, from Labor Day to Thanksgiving. For a student taking a load of 12 hours, that comes out to an estimated 2,196 hours spent in the classroom and studying.

“In the opinion of one, I personally like the idea because I know the stress and anxiety that students experience, but also the employees experience,” said Matthew Park, associate vice president of student affairs and enrollment management. “The fall is a marathon and not only that, but when we consider that this is the term that we bring in the largest amount of new students, a fall break would give them time to recoup and re-energize or even catch up on work.”

The idea of a fall break is misconstrued, Park said. There are people that believe a fall break is the same as the Thanksgiving Break, but it is not. Fall break would be a break during the middle of the 61 day “marathon,” as Park said. Park suggested the break could be anywhere from three days to a week much like Thanksgiving Break.

“In my years of being at MWSU, I have not experienced a time where I can remember that there was a fall break,” said Keith Lamb, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management.

MWSU is an independent university, meaning it is not part of a chain of schools like the Texas A&M University System or the University of Texas system. Ultimately, the fate of a fall break lies in the hands of MWSU’s top governing board—the Board of Regents. Although the Board of Regents has the final say, Park said the process can start as low as an empowered student.

“It would have to start with one of four entities,” Park said.

For example, the students could present the matter to their student class senator who could then help them write a resolution or a proposal to present to the Student Government Association. SGA would then debate the motion and, if passed, they would then present it to the university president.

“That would be the voice of the students in a matter like this because it is a collective voice of the student body,” Park said.

Park said another way of getting the process started is through the faculty senate. Faculty senate is comprised of a representative from each of the colleges. They act as an advisory to the president as well.

“Faculty would benefit from this because it would give them days where they would not have to prepare and teach classes,” Park said.

Park said the the staff could make the same push through the staff senate, but he said staff members may be less interested in a fall break than faculty and students.

“I question how interested staff would be because they still work even when the classes aren’t in session,” Park said. “There are 10 days where there are nonessential staff days, but that’s it.”

The administration, being the last entity, could begin the proposal as well. There would have to be feedback from every angle of the proposal.

“I’ve talked to students that express the interest in a fall break, but the problem is that there is a certain number of contact days that students have to be in the classroom,” Park said. “There would be the question as to where we add the missed days into the schedule”

If the fall break was implemented, the question then becomes do the days taken away add to the end of the year or to the beginning of the year.

“In the opinion of Matthew Park and of no one else, I believe more students would be willing to come in earlier because students are excited to be on campus versus the end of the semester because toward the end, students are just ready to leave,” Park said.

The marathon could end, but it starts with one empowered individual with a plan.

Read more: Staff Editorial: We need a fall break

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