USC must add more programs over break

It’s that time of year again: Thanksgiving. As many students attempt to cram in final study sessions, their minds are really on the suitcases they need to pack for their flights home. But some won’t be going home this Thanksgiving and it’s important for USC to acknowledge this group who might not be able to afford a plane ticket or those students who live too far away.

Though President C.L. Max Nikias hosts an annual dinner for those students who don’t have the luxury of going home, the event has an attendance limit and can’t accommodate all the students who remain on campus for the break.

USC must implement more activities and offer better programming during this Thanksgiving break period. One method is to implement activities similar to the alternative break options offered during the winter and spring breaks. These alternative break programs would offer students who haven’t previously been exposed to the L.A. area the chance to explore and experience the extent of the cultures represented. Or for those who are looking for something a bit more adventurous, leadership and team-building programs could be another option, giving students access to a kind of education they can’t get in the classroom.

Students could learn things such as first-aid and survival tactics, and then get the chance to practice them on a camping outing. And for those who prefer not to get dirty and fight off spiders in their sleep, USC could offer small classes similar to Welcome Week, in which students can try a few different topics that spark their curiosity outside of their majors, without the commitment of a full semester class. For example, professors in departments such as psychology could teach a session on one specific question studied in the major course or the School of Cinematic Arts could teach a session on green screens. Students could even have access to extra tutoring in a class they’re struggling in. If students are feeling the urge to give back, USC could arrange community service projects for a few days, such as working at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving or cleaning up beaches.

Other students or Resident Advisors who will remain in town could lead these activities, which could be anything from group field trips to locations throughout Los Angeles, to ski or community service trips.

Regardless of the programming, those who will stay at USC for the break should also realize the advantage they have in comparison to those who leave for the holiday. Though these students won’t get to see their families or friends from home, they can use this time to prepare for the last week of classes and take their finals by storm. They won’t be plagued with stress due to all the work they neglected in favor of their loved ones because they would have — presumably — already completed it.

Even better? For those students staying in the dorms, there’ll be a unique environment of silence. Enjoy this rare event while it lasts, and live it to its fullest: Blast music, run around, wander and bond with new people out of a shared lack of travel. Hike to the Hollywood sign. Scavenge the thrift shops of Los Feliz for hidden gems. Follow the Hollywood Walk of Fame from start to finish. Eat at a restaurant in every international neighborhood of the city. Watch the sunset at the Santa Monica pier, and maybe even sneak in that last beach day. Go Black Friday shopping without having to leave your family at the table. Or if you just want a break for break’s sake, simply hang around and do nothing, because that’s always nice, too.

In the end, non-breakers really do matter, and though there are plenty of options for the economically advantaged, the majority of students would highly benefit from an increase of university-offered programs during Thanksgiving break.


Abby Mark is a freshman majoring in theatre.

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8 replies
  1. cdgalum
    cdgalum says:

    Why is it that young adults today feel as though they are entitled to constant entertainment? I am a current Masters of Social Work grad student and USC undergrad alum. Our Thanksgiving break was even shorter than 5 days it was 3. There were students who stayed on campus that long weekend. Airfares were more expensive than they are today. Yes we had a large number of foreign students too.

    There were no cell phones, play stations or laptops to keep us entertained. Our phone calls home were at a pay phone and if we were lucky our families would accept a collect home. We did not have a rail line with metrolink as a mode of transportation. Yes there was black-Friday shopping but stores were closed on Thanksgiving.

    So what did we do? We created our own adventure. We made friends, studied or relaxed. We were more social. One of the reasons we were was because we did not walk around campus with our focus on a smart phone screen or mini ipad. We did not isolate ourselves from others by wearing headphones. We actually communicated without saying a word.

    Life after undergrad is not easy. No one is going to be there to entertain. We ourselves create our own individual happiness. Try for one week to leave the phone in the backpack and take off the headphones. There is a world out there to explore, but I am afraid the young are missing it. Yes the advancements in technology are wonderful but I am afraid they also took away some basic social skills.

  2. bonita lehto
    bonita lehto says:

    Hi Abigail: Elated that Dad sent me your recent writing on Thanksgiving, we enjoyed your
    perspective! Have a blessed Thanksgiving with your friends, love & hugs,Auntie & Uncle in Florida

  3. sapientia
    sapientia says:

    So, the faculty and staff of the University don’t deserve a break to spend the holiday with their families? I think we can fend for ourselves for a few days…

  4. GradStu
    GradStu says:

    Good points in the article. Mainly would help freshman, as some may not have made strong enough social connections to be invited to a friends home. Even implementing a few could make a difference.

    • Jonathan Kuhn
      Jonathan Kuhn says:

      I realize you were attempting to make a joke, but just because someone celebrates Thanksgiving doesn’t mean they can go home for it every year.

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