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This past spring break, my roommates and I spent more than a thousand dollars each on a hotel-air package to Cancun. We’d spent weeks looking forward to this as a welcome relief from the cold, work-filled atmosphere of Harvard. Cancun lived up to its hype—beautiful beaches, nice hotels and booming nightclubs were at our fingertips.
It had everything that you could possibly want in a spring break destination, except the thing that mattered most—other college kids. The throngs of intoxicated American college kids that annually crowd the beaches and fill the clubs were no more. All that was left were small families hanging out by the pool and fat guys from Yonkers playing bocce ball.
Harvard, for whatever reason, schedules its spring break at a time when every other college in America has already had its vacation and is back in session. Even a school like Princeton, with an academic calendar similar to Harvard’s, holds its vacation earlier. There’s no real practical reason for having spring break so late. Hotels and airfare cost the same; the weather is not improved.
This inconvenient scheduling is but another example of an administration that is frequently ignorant of the nuances of student life. The powers that be don’t realize that by scheduling vacation at this absurd time, they are denying their students the all-important life experience of a care-free college spring break.
Like many others of my generation, I grew up watching MTV’s “Spring Break.” Every year I could count on this colorful spectacle to break through the monotony of March, allowing me a sneak peek into an earthly paradise of blue water, pristine beaches and wet t-shirt contests. I always thought to myself that maybe, just maybe, someday I would be cool enough and old enough to take part in that. I could tolerate the everyday tedium of high school because in the back of my mind I knew that I would one day be in college and on spring break. And, if the stars aligned properly, I just might find myself in a Jerry Springer-moderated, televised whipped-cream-eating contest with a girl from Florida State.
This lifelong dream will never come true under Harvard’s current schedule. There will be no funneling beer with Oklahoma State University fraternity brothers. If I’m so lucky to end up in such a beautiful spring break location again, I’ll have to content myself with talking to a high school girl about Hillary Duff and her break-up with Aaron Carter. The spa full of Arizona State University girls will instead be full of Moms asking me questions about what SAT prep course I took to get into Harvard.
So to administrators, I say: You can take away a lot of things—my pride, my social life and even $40,000 of my parent’s money. All I ask in return is that you schedule my spring break so that it coincides with other colleges’. Let me have fun the way an all-American college kid should—in a way that would make those MTV executives proud.
If only for a week, let me be one of those sunburnt white guys wearing a backwards visor, talking to a girl who has never heard of Ralph Waldo Emerson and doesn’t care if a ceasefire has been called in the city of Falluja. Give me this and I’ll not only be eternally grateful, but I’ll also have something to fantasize about during those frigid winter mornings when I have to walk through subzero temperatures to get to my 9 a.m. Statistics class.
Brian A. Finn ’06, a Crimson business editor, is an economics concentrator in Lowell House.
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