No more false starts: Email discourages students from skipping class before break

Sasha Weilbaker, Staff Writer

Associate Provost Robert Midkiff sent an email to all faculty and students on Nov. 16 stressing to the University community that Thanksgiving break did not start until Nov. 18 at 5 p.m.

The email was drafted as a reminder and admonition to not leave for break early after concerns were expressed by both faculty and students about higher absences in classes later in the week.

This was the second year of the University’s implementation of an extended Thanksgiving break that started on the Friday before Thanksgiving. Two years ago, the break started on the Tuesday before the national holiday. As one of the architects of the University calendar, Midkiff said that Thanksgiving break was extended in order to “make it easier for students, faculty, staff, and their families to arrange travel.” Midkiff also said that the University was “hoping to eliminate the number of absences and class cancellations that they saw when break did not begin until Tuesday at 5 p.m.”

Midkiff said that the new schedule has generally been successful, but he is “still seeing some students leaving campus on Thursday and Friday before break begins.” The email sent to students and faculty was an attempt to remind students that the break was rearranged in recent years specifically to discourage them from leaving early.

Stephen Mayer ’19 is an advocate for students sticking around until the very end.

“I think that when others leave early for unnecessary reasons it hampers the learning opportunities for those who do make it a point to be there for the last day. When you’re missing fifty percent of a class, discussions become less productive and the atmosphere in general is a lot less stimulating,” Mayer said. 

Some students were less concerned about the lack of attendance.

“I can see why it frustrates professors, but I personally don’t have a problem with people leaving early for Thanksgiving break, particularly if they live far from Bucknell and have a long commute back home,” Caitlin Friel ’19 said.

Robert Fornshell ’19 expressed a similar view.

“I think everyone should be able to leave when they want, within reason, especially if rides require students to miss class or they worked it out with their teachers beforehand,” Fornshell said.

Students also indicated that professors and staff members should not leave early, thus setting a good example for others to follow.

“Faculty should make a point to hold themselves accountable and make sure that they themselves are here on the last day, and incentivize their students to be there as well,” Mayer said. 

Midkiff emphasized Mayer’s point by stating in his email that “all students are expected to attend scheduled classes” throughout the entire week before break. Thus, all students in the class are getting an equal opportunity for discussion. Despite the number of pre-holiday absences this semester, the University remains hopeful that the new Thanksgiving break schedule will facilitate a positive change in attendance in future years.

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