Fall break a possibility for Kent State

Davy Vargo

As leaves begin to fall, talk of adding a fall break has surfaced among the Kent State administration.

Melody Tankersley, senior associate provost, said a small group of university officials are currently considering a fall break — but it isn’t official yet.

“We’ve been looking at the opportunity to add a fall break for a few months now,” Tankersley said. “We think it’s a really good idea, but we haven’t fleshed it out well enough yet to take it to the people who would want to consider it.”

Tankersley said that without a fall break, it’s a long time for students to be away from home, especially freshmen.

Jade Jarrett, a freshman exploratory major, said she would like a fall break.

“It’s been a solid (10) weeks now of just straight college,” she said. “Our first break is actually Thanksgiving, so that’s a long time still away. If (freshmen) had a hard transition, they don’t get a chance to take a break from that transition till Thanksgiving.”

During her 23 years at Kent State, Tankersley said she has witnessed changes in the student body demographics.

She said many students used to go home for the weekends, but now, with more out-of-state students at Kent State, weekend breaks aren’t as easy.

“We started looking at our own students,” she said. “Around October time, after midterms, we’re seeing a little more incidents of students not feeling good, physically or even mentally.”

Tankersley said they began to discuss how they could implement a fall break.

“We want to make sure we’re doing the right thing for students — to make sure we’re taking care them academically, as well as emotionally and physically,” Tankersley said. “We want everybody to be happy and healthy and be able to study well.”

But it’s complicated, she said.

“We’re looking at lots of different options,” she said. “Classes could start earlier, go later into December, or finals week could be tweaked.”

Tankersley said the administration must figure out how to sync a possible fall break with Welcome Weekend, campus events and financial aid considerations – all while still providing the required 15 weeks of instruction

“The process right now is trying to study how fall breaks are implemented at other universities,” Tankersley said. “Especially our peer institutions that are large — like we are,and a little complicated, like we are, and seeing what works well.”

The Ohio State University, tried a fall break this year for the first time.

Wayne Carlson, OSU’s vice provost of undergraduate studies, said the university switched from quarters to semesters a few years ago, which contributed to the pro fall break decision.

“The student government, on behalf of the students, lobbied the university leadership to see if we could create a fall break somewhere in the middle of October,” Carlson said.

Carlson said the students also petitioned for the fall break to occur when there wasn’t a home football game.

To fulfill their 70 hours of instruction requirement, Carlson said OSU started classes one day sooner and took away one of the reading days before finals.

“The students were really looking forward to fall break,” Carlson said. “I would encourage (Kent State) to try to do it because I think it’s really important.”

Nicole Martin, an OSU freshman middle childhood education major, was one of many students who went home on fall break, for the first time since August.

“I like the opportunity to catch up on some homework,” Martin said. “It gives you a chance to relax and de-stress a little bit but still get all that stuff done. It gives me a chance to see my friends and family — I’ve been noticing it has been a real emotional help because I get really lonely sometimes at school.”

Nadia Greenhalgh-Stanley, a Kent State economics associate professor, said she supports implementing a fall break.

“I think that usually about halfway through the semester, students start to get a little bit antsy, so it’s a good idea to have a break,” Greenhalgh-Stanley said. “It’s a long time till Thanksgiving, sometimes it’s the last week of class. I think you could still fit the material in pretty well.”

Davy Vargo is the student life reporter, contact her at [email protected].