Give us a (longer) break, Chico State

Student laments administrators’ decision to shorten winter break

The author is a graduate student in English at Chico State.

I understand that in our turbulent modern age of fiscal and governmental incompetence, administrative responsibilities are often situated between geologic objects and hard locations. Yet the recent decision by the administration at Chico State to shorten the winter break for “cost-saving purposes” belies its claims of putting faculty and students first.

This year, the administration has shortened the winter break from the traditional five weeks to four weeks. It’s hard to believe that this was the only legitimate option for rearranging the school calendar in a way that saves money when we consider the human costs it incurs on faculty and students.

When the fall semester ends, most of us—faculty and students alike—are burnt-out. The calendar encroaches upon the holidays as it is, and by the time grades are in, Christmas has often already passed. We’ve just finished a grueling semester, and we need a break and some time off to recharge. This break time is essential rest.

However, it’s not all warm fires and holiday nog. During the winter break, faculty members spend much of their time prepping for classes they haven’t taught before, or rewriting the curriculum for the classes they have. For those who have never taught, preparing a course is a tremendous amount of work, and we at Chico State are blessed to have instructors who labor overtime to provide outstanding learning experiences. By reducing the winter break, their prep time just got reduced by a week.

Moreover, many of the graduate students are finishing theses in the spring semester, and the winter break traditionally has been that time to hole up and finish the major contours of our work in preparation for revisions and defenses. Even many undergraduates use this time to work on research projects, serve their community, or even read ahead for next semester.

If Chico State administrators really put faculty and students first, they would know that what we need is a longer winter break (more weeks than five), not a shorter one. To reduce the winter session and still expect us to finish our theses, prep our oversized classes, attend our faculty meetings, participate in our campus societies, and simply rest reveals misplaced priorities in our administration regarding the reality of our academic lives. Students with fewer class options and teachers struggling with larger rosters need a longer break.