Recently, I have heard a lot of negative talk from classmates and friends regarding the Thanksgiving break and its adverse effects on students who choose to remain on campus. I recognize that the short length of the break does not incentivize students to leave campus, and when they stay, they are left without on-campus food options for all three days. However, I believe that the Lewis & Clark administration is making the best decisions they can with the existing schedule. The only way to improve the situation would be shifting the break schedule itself.
Fields Dining Hall, as well as the Trail Room, Maggie’s Cafe, the Dovecote and the bookstore closed service for November 25-27. Coupled with the fact that the Pioneer Express is not running, students are left without food and with no free way to get off campus to buy groceries.
Many students have also lamented about the short length of the vacation. School was still in session up through the day prior to Thanksgiving, so some students, especially those who live far away and would need to fly home, felt that it was not beneficial to make the trip for only a few days.
Let us imagine that the dining hall remained open through the break. This would mean that all of the staff who work there would have to sacrifice their own holiday so that a limited number of students on campus would have the option to eat there. Some students have argued that the dining hall could have just been closed Thanksgiving day and reopened on Friday, but that does not allow staff, many of whom are students, the opportunity to travel or visit family farther away.
Since the Pioneer Express ran through Wednesday, and many professors canceled class on that day, students would have had the time and means to make a trip to Fred Meyer and stock up for the next few days. Additionally, the Trimet was still running over the break, and with route 39 stopping at LC, it makes it quite convenient to hop on the city bus for cheap transportation.
With this under consideration, I think that closing campus dining facilities and pausing the Pioneer Express route is a justified call to make in order to allow the dining staff and bus drivers the same opportunity as the students to go home for the break. Additionally, some colleges shut down dorms altogether during their winter break, so we are lucky that we can still keep living in our dorms here at LC.
However, it is still not an ideal situation for students who do not have the time or money to make a trek to far-away homes. If the school were to reorganize the academic calendar, many of these issues could be avoided altogether. Winter break could be shifted to start before Thanksgiving and end right after New Year’s Day. Students could take one long trip home and avoid the pesky decision of whether to travel for an awkward length of only a few days when many of us go home again so soon after Thanksgiving.
Starting winter break earlier would mean that the fall semester, which ends before the break, would be shorter than the spring semester. To balance out the semesters equally, the school year could start and end a couple weeks earlier than it does now. Alternatively, fall semester could end after winter break. Regardless, I think eliminating the break just for Thanksgiving would make this situation easier for both students and faculty.
However, such a radical change in the schedule is unlikely. It seems like it would only be a realistic option to make this shift for students in future years. As for where we are right now, I believe that this Thanksgiving break has been handled in a fairly reasonable manner. LC administration should not be receiving so much blame for closing services like the dining hall and the Pioneer Express during the break.