Thanksgiving has usually meant trekking home to see old friends, grabbing some turkey and maybe hitting up the parents for money. And now, thanks to changes in the academic calendar, some students are taking off more time than ever.
During the last week of November, Duke has traditionally offered two full days of classes Monday and Tuesday and half a day Wednesday. This year, Thanksgiving Break begins at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. All Wednesday classes are cancelled.
A somewhat unexpected result of the schedule change, however, has been the increased number of students who went home as early as last Thursday, missing classes the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving break officially begins.
Sophomore Blair Carter said her physics lab and religion class were cancelled at the top of the week, so she decided to go home over the weekend.
"No regrets, it's been awesome," she said, adding that she did not think it was a "big deal" to leave early when most of her classes were not meeting.
The decision to lengthen the break was carried out in response to faculty feedback, said Judith Ruderman, vice provost for academic and administrative services and chair of the University's Scheduling Committee.
Last year, a professor complained that classes with sections that met Wednesday afternoons were being shortchanged in comparison to their morning counterparts, Ruderman said.
"It would be wrong of me to encourage anyone to cancel classes-that was the whole reason," she said. "I [find] it ironic that many faculty are cancelling classes Tuesday."
Ruderman also noted that classes should be meeting on Monday as well.
"In trying to right a wrong we may have created another opportunity for 'wrong', and I'm not happy about that," she said.
Gerald Wilson, adjunct professor of history, senior associate dean of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Scheduling Committee, also noted that the situation presents a problem.
When some faculty cancel classes on Monday or Tuesday after the University has already eliminated Wednesday sessions, it leads to an "infinite regress," he said.
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"It will be very interesting to see what the faculty reaction is," Wilson added.
He suggested that one tenable solution would be to create a whole week for Thanksgiving Break, although the University has struggled in the past to find enough academic days.
"Where do you make it up?" he asked, noting that to start the semester earlier or finish it later would create its own problems and to cancel Fall Break would not be an acceptable option.
Wilson did not rule out a return to the old schedule of having half a day of classes the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
"If we had had classes Wednesday, I probably would have stayed," Carter said.