Winter breaks are getting shorter. Here’s why.

Graphic by Rachael Chillcott.

Graphic by Rachael Chillcott.

Kelly Tunney

Two weeks. That’s the difference between winter break for the 2008-2009 academic year and the 2011-2012 academic year.

Ever since the five-week break of 2008-2009, students have seen a slow decrease in the amount of time they have off before spring semester begins. The variation of break length typically varies from year to year, depending on many factors.

Stephane Booth, associate provost in quality initiative and curriculum, said break has become shortened partly because the provost looked at the calendars of other Ohio universities, such as Youngstown, Akron and Cleveland. He determined these schools were getting out earlier in the spring and wanted Kent to do the same.

“There was a real concern that perhaps, especially with the job market the way it is,” she said, “that our students were being disadvantaged by not being out there and being able to start work at the same time.”

However, shorter breaks won’t last forever.

Booth said it works in cycles. After a few more years of shorter breaks, the university will have a few longer breaks. It will slowly reduce once again in the years after.

“If you look at the following year we get out like December 14 next year and come back like January 14, and then it keeps kind of backing up that way,” Booth said. “Then, depending on the way the calendar falls in those three years, it may revert back, so it’s in the process of trying to work all of those things.”

Therese Tillett, director of curriculum services, said the decision to go back to the longer break in the future allows more time between fall and spring for offices to prepare for the next semester.

“It really shortened the time that student financial aid could work to get reimbursements out, because that really depends on when the student is being registered,” she said. “If students were going to be dismissed from the university in the fall, that was a really shortened period that didn’t give them enough time to get their stuff in order if they were living in the residence halls and that sort of thing.”

Booth said a committee of staff from bursars, financial aid, residence services, international office, athletic affairs and many other offices come together to plan the calendar. Holidays also have an influence over when the academic year will begin and end.

“We look at what holidays are in there; you’ve got labor day, you’ve got Martin Luther King day, where those are falling, each of these years, because you know where they’re going to be, but you don’t know the same date.”

Dave Layton, senior business management major, said the shortened break isn’t enough time for students who work or visit relatives in between semesters.

“Now that it’s three weeks I think it just goes way too fast,” he said. “People don’t have time to go see their families or go on vacation somewhere and be able to work as well.”

Layton said he wasn’t able to go on vacation as planned this year because of the break.

“I was going to go down to Florida to visit one of my friends in my fraternity who lives down there now,” he said. “But I can’t because break is so short, and I have to work.”

Tillet said the length of the break is inevitably always going to upset someone at some point.

“They are complaining now when it’s shorter, but they aren’t complaining in the summer when it’s longer, you know,” she said. “They won’t complain when it’s longer in the future, but they’ll complain in the summer when it’s shorter.”

Tillet said the committee wanted to try out the idea of a shorter break, and although they have decided to go back to the longer break, they will not rule it out as a possibility in the future.

“I’d like to think of it as an experiment, that we’d go back and try it again,” Tillet said. “I wouldn’t even say that it failed because I think depending on who you talk to, when you talk to them, and who that person is, it worked great or it didn’t work great.”

Contact Kelly Tunney at [email protected].