Disclaimer: A version of this article has been written before. The sentiment expressed in this article has already been articulated. The following words do not convey a new idea. The injustice of the situation, however, demands that I revisit the topic.
Exactly three weeks from today, Harvard College officially begins its winter break. Typically, these last three weeks are filled with stress. It is a time of final papers, final problems sets, final midterms and studying for finals. Sure, it's not life and death, but within the scope of an institution of higher learning, this is as high-stress as it gets. And the reward after this gauntlet just got shorter because winter break this year lasts only thirteen days.
Yes, that's right, thirteen days--a nefarious number if I ever heard one. Besides being unlucky, the number thirteen is also too damn small for something as large, as looked forward to, as necessary as winter vacation! This is not about comparing us to other schools. I won't rehash the old (but true) argument that every other school (with the possible exception of Princeton, but they still have eating clubs so they're not exactly trend setters) has a longer break than us. I won't recall the humiliation of having to leave home just as all your high school friends are coming back. I won't remind everyone of Yale's chilling cheer at the Game, "Sch-ool on Mon-day."
But this isn't about competition. We don't care about those other schools. This is about values. This is about principles. And you know what? Thirteen days is not long enough. It's less than two weeks! If you need to have surgery over break, thirteen days probably isn't long enough to recover. If you plan on meeting a hot basketball player from Duke while home for break, thirteen days just does not cut it. And of course, if you are from Florida, two weeks is much too short a time to complete a democratic election.
We haven't lost in terms of overall vacation days. The Faculty decided to make intersession longer. It is now ten days (minimum). That is great. It means more time to relax after finals. However, if you plan on going home during intercession, it will get kind of lonely because no one else is there. Practically every other school is back in session by late January. This means that our long intersession will be spent with fellow Harvard people. This is supposed to be a vacation, remember?
To add insult to injury, this year's winter break is badly placed. Vacation lasts from Dec. 20 to Jan. 1. Jewish students will get home in time for Hanukkah, which is a good thing. Students who celebrate Kwanzaa, however, will have to leave home on the last day of the holiday. (Okay, so few people actually celebrate all seven days, but still.) The real problem with the current vacation dates are that they make travel back to school on New Year's Day. Do you know what this means? Incredibly painful hangovers and a day of travel fraught with errors. Here is a description of the average student's trip back.
Dec. 31, 9 p.m. Joe Q. Student, after dutifully packing for his 10 a.m. flight back to Boston, leaves his house to go party with his high school buddies.
Jan. 1, 9 a.m. Joe wakes up groggily. He sees the clock and tries to jump out of bed only to immediately bang his head on a street sign that Joe inexplicably tied to the bedpost the night before. Joe gets knocked unconscious.
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