Fall break proposal now awaiting implementation

Austin Dunn photographed by Katie Chin | Daily Trojan

Students may get a two-day break on the eighth week of the fall semester as soon as the 2020-21 academic year.

According to Undergraduate Student Government President Austin Dunn, the break is intended to ease the burden placed on students during the fall semester. The proposal, Dunn said, has cleared all relevant legislative bodies and is awaiting implementation.

“[The proposal] has now passed through USG Senate, Graduate Student Government Senate, Academic Senate and Faculty Senate,” Dunn said in an email to the Daily Trojan.

Following the approval by these bodies, the question now is not if the break will be implemented, but when, Dunn said. He added that President C. L. Max Nikias’ supports this effort to lessen the mental burden which USC’s academic calendar may contribute to.

“The next step is to have the break added to the USC calendar, which is governed by a committee that establishes the academic calendar three years in advance,” Dunn said.

Similar proposals have circulated for the past five years, but prior versions were not considered by the Academic Senate. But starting in the 2016-17 school year, the USG administration collaborated with the Engemann Student Health Center to compile data measuring stress levels of students throughout fall semester. The data demonstrated a substantial spike in demand for counseling from weeks 8 through 10, Dunn said.

As the Daily Trojan previously reported, the Faculty Senate previously hesitated to pass the proposal because it believed that students would take advantage of the break rather than focus on their mental health.

“The problem we face as USC students is that during the stretch from Labor Day to Thanksgiving break, USC students have 56 instructional days without any break,” Dunn said.

USC has the longest academic semester, with the most instructional days, of all top-25 schools in the United States. Other top-25 schools, such as UC Berkeley, Georgetown University and Rice University, each have at least three fewer days of instruction during their fall semesters.

“Without a consolidated midterm schedule and the absence of a break, students soon begin to feel overwhelmed,” Dunn said.