Rider’s academic calendar: students need a break

By Kaitlyn McCormick

Almost halfway through the fall semester, students are starting to feel the full weight of their classes building up, and knowing that there won’t be a break until November only adds to this stress. While other colleges in the area and across the country implement a fall recess into their academic calendar, Rider does not.

“I’m tired,” said elementary education major Emili Dimoski. She compared the current semester experience with that of spring 2021, where instead of having a spring break, Rider students and faculty went straight through 13 weeks of classes.

“By halfway through that semester, I mentally was just so gone, and so far it’s felt like that this semester, because we haven’t had a day off yet,” Dimoski said.

“I would just like a day, or two, to play catch-up,” added Dimoski.

Different colleges and universities in the area hold fall breaks in various ways and lengths of time. For example, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) has a “Fall Semester Break” on their academic calendar for the 2021 fall semester from Oct. 11 to Oct. 12. Princeton University, however, has a week- long “Fall Recess” that lasts from Oct. 16 through Oct. 24.

In the spring of 2020, Provost DonnaJean Fredeen convened the Calendar Task Force, a committee that fields input from students and faculty about the academic calendar and develops a set of recommendations which are to then be voted on by the University Academic Policy Committee (UAPC).

The Calendar Task Force is co-chaired by Maria Sanchez and Registrar Sue Stefanick and consists of seven faculty members and seven administrators, including auxiliary services, the assistant dean of students and faculty representatives from all of the colleges.

Sanchez explained in an interview with The Rider News that the task force’s main purpose is to examine the current calendar and see if any changes need to be made. This was especially pertinent with the recent incorporation of Westminster Choir College (WCC) onto the Rider campus.

Sophomore music major Bella Nakum, a Westminster student, told The Rider News that before moving onto Rider’s Lawrenceville campus, WCC had a fall break called “intermezzo.”

“As Westminster kids tend to have performances on every single day that’s not classes, it’s really helpful to have that breakup,” Nakum said.

For WCC students, so much free time away from a rigorous academic schedule is then supplemented with rehearsals, so having an actual break during the fall semester would be beneficial. This same notion goes for Rider students who may work multiple jobs on or off campus throughout the week and on weekends in addition to attending courses. Every student’s course schedule will look and feel different based on their major and individual study style as well.

Sanchez said that “there’s not really a typical calendar,” when comparing the academic calendars of universities and colleges in the area to Rider’s calendar. Because there needs to be 13 full weeks of classes, if a fall break were to be implemented, the semester would either have to start earlier or end later to fit in those days.

In a world climate that is already emotionally and mentally draining, it’s not far-fetched to say that a break closer to the middle of the semester would be beneficial to students and faculty alike. Although Rider currently has a Thanksgiving recess scheduled from Nov. 24 to Nov. 28, this break comes at the back end of the fall semester before finals.

As far as new changes to the academic calendar go, it does not look like any sort of fall semester break is on the horizon. Though UAPC chair Julie Drawbridge was unable to provide a complete list of the task force’s recommendations before the UAPC had voted on them, Sanchez said that no major changes to the schedule were suggested.

Adding a fall break into Rider’s future academic calendars has the potential to be greatly beneficial to students both in the fields of mental wellbeing and academic performance, and this consideration should be taken seriously.

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