Undergraduate Student Government has been making attempts to implement a university-wide fall break for many years and, despite overwhelming student support, it is still unclear when a fall break might be implemented.
Last semester, USG Senate sent a proposal to the administration. The proposal for fall break would involve the removal of two academic days in the middle of the semester and the addition of two days to the beginning of the school year in August.
USG officials focused on researching student interest for fall break last semester, and their proposal is currently under review by the university’s Academic Scheduling Committee.
During the fall 2012 semester, Geragos and his council researched schools with fall breaks looking for more information on schools with similar schedules.
Nineteen of the top 25 universities operate on a semester system. Ten of those universities have a two-day or more break in the fall semester. Fifteen of the top 25 universities have a one-day or longer break in their fall semester.
Of the top universities in the nation according to the U.S. News and World Report, Princeton, Duke, and Notre Dame all have one-week breaks in the middle of the fall semester.
Geragos’ cabinet then took into consideration students, surveying 918 students to gain better insight from the student population. Ninety percent of those surveyed, or 825 students, said the university should add a fall break to the academic calendar. Ten percent of those surveyed, or 89 students, said it was not necessary to implement a fall break.
Many students also said they were in support of a fall break, even if it altered the academic calendar. When asked to choose their top reason for fall break, 85 percent of students surveyed said the break provides an opportunity to de-stress from the semester. Improved academic performance and travel opportunities followed, with 64 percent and 61 percent, respectively.
The survey showed that students were willing to accept additional academic days in order to receive a short break in the fall. Geragos noted that the focus of a fall break would be different from other breaks.
“This shouldn’t be viewed as a spring break in the fall,” Geragos said. “It is a way for students to compose themselves and take a few days off without schoolwork.”
Surveyed students were also more willing to start the academic year earlier than they were to end it later: Fifty percent said they were willing to start earlier, while 40 percent said they would want the fall semester to end later.
The Academic Scheduling Committee is currently reviewing a proposal from USG Senate. The proposal consists of starting the eighth week of the fall semester on a Wednesday, giving students Monday and Tuesday.
Geragos said the proposal is advantageous for both the student body and the administration.
“I believe this will be a fair compromise between what the students want and the concerns for instructional days,” Geragos said.
Geragos said throughout the process, faculty and school officials have consistently understood the student benefits of a break in the fall, recognizing the need for students to re-evaluate during the given time.
Some students, such as Rachel Kohn, a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism, said fall break would have academic benefits.
“It is a time for students to take a break from the schedule and get back into the swing of things,” Kohn said. “It is a regular thing on the East Coast, and I was surprised when I got out here and there was not one.”
And Abi Oseni, a freshman majoring in business administration, said a fall break would simply give students an opportunity to relax during the long fall semester.
“A fall break is a great idea,” Oseni said. “It would provide students with a much needed break during the semester. A lot of my friends at other schools have a break during the fall semester, and USC should do the same.”
Some students, however, said pre-existing breaks are enough.
“Honestly, two days is not that big of a difference for me. I would just do the full week at Thanksgiving,” said Mitchell Diesko, a sophomore majoring in political science and international relations and global business. “I am not going to argue with two days.”
Others, including Elizabeth Henry, a junior majoring in philosophy and minoring in linguistics, said squabbling over the exact number of days for a fall break is unnecessary.
“I would take any break over no break. A break is a break,” Henry said. “In the spring semester, we get those days off and I can work with that.”
Geragos said though the implementation of a fall break has yet to be approved or determined, more information on committee decisions will come in the following weeks. Any final proposal will have to be approved by Provost Elizabeth Garrett.