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Wednesday classes not necessary before Thanksgiving

You shouldn’t be reading this right now.

For that matter, you shouldn’t see Ben or Dave’s column on this page either or any page at all. You shouldn’t be in class today.

According to University of Massachusetts Thanksgiving Closing Notice distributed by the Housing Assignment Office, “All residence halls except nine-month facilities will close at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 25, 2009.” And that’s it.

There’s no change in class schedule, no memo for professors, just “Dorms close at 6 p.m., peace.” If you have a late class, have to catch a flight home or have trouble getting a ride at the perfect time, it sucks to be you.

So for students who don’t live in one of those dorms or live off campus, it’s easy to see why this is a teeny bit of an inconvenience since not all students can summon rides home once they get out off class.

I initially tried to get my friend Meg to write this column. Unfortunately, Meg’s a biology major from Virginia. So that means that she’s spent about the last 14 hours studying anatomy and then has to take the eight-hour drive back home tonight right after classes end today.

For a school that’s pushing for out-of-state students to enroll, UMass isn’t doing a very good job of accommodating those who live far from Amherst. Sure, students can suck it up and drive back home, only to arrive in the dead of night and deal with it. The next day is Thanksgiving, though, which is kind of important for people who have a mild affinity towards their family. It’s especially bad for students who live out of state. “Hey mom, I finally get a chance to come home. But I either have to skip my 4 p.m. anthropology class or start the nine-hour drive at 6:00 p.m. and risk falling asleep at the wheel to arrive home only to want to sleep the entire day. But that’s fine.”

The current policy is fine for students like me who live an hour and a half away. There were 12 other students in my graduating class who came here. I can find a ride home. But for people like Meg, the policy is completely asinine.

It’s one thing if UMass doesn’t want to close the dorms until 6 p.m. on the day before Thanksgiving. That’s fine. But to have classes run up to (and in some cases beyond) that deadline is unfair to out-of-state students.

Nine-month housing is an alternative for students who want to stay on campus. But what if someone just wants to stay in Amherst over Thanksgiving? They have to pay to stay up over winter break too? Airfare is expensive. Why must the school make students from California leave for just one weekend? Why close the dorms for the whole weekend without providing options for those who don’t want to go home over the long weekend. Maybe just offer an option to stay for out-of-state students – make their raised fees worth something.

How about saying that all classes that conclude after 4 p.m. on Wednesday are cancelled? At least that way the University gives students a two-hour window to pack up and go home.

So, if students have to attend a late class to hand something in – or for attendance – and need to get off campus because the dorms close at 6 p.m., they have to lug all of their crap with them and take up five seats in the classroom. But that’s not a problem. The four other kids in the 200-person lecture hall did the same thing.

Why is that classroom so empty? Most professors have the foresight to see the issue with students all trying to get home for the holidays. Of course, some professors are way too hardcore to adapt to such a schedule.

For some students, this works out perfectly. Classes are cancelled on Wednesday because no one wants to be there and many people have to leave. But what about the educational atrocity that’s occurring because a lab got cancelled? Perhaps the school could – this is mind-blowing but try to keep up ­– add another day to the schedule. It works for Monday classes, for Columbus Day and other holidays.

For weekly classes, this doesn’t work out too well. But, isn’t it really the school’s fault for making a schedule in which weekly classes occur on Wednesday, and for that matter, Mondays? These are the days that have the most holidays. Why not have weekly classes on Tuesdays instead of changing a Tuesday schedule to a Monday schedule every time there’s a holiday? This way, we can go home early and simply add a day or two to the schedule to make sure weekly classes line up right.

The current expectations for travel are far too harsh for students. If the administration can’t cancel classes the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the least it could do is give students a little room for error.

Nick O’Malley is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at

2 Responses to “Wednesday classes not necessary before Thanksgiving”
  1. Emily says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR POSTING THIS! I’m so glad someone is drawing attention to this problem! I live in Arizona, so I can’t justify a trip home for 5 days (espically because I lose 2 days traveling). Luckily, I have friends in MA whose families let me crash with them. But if UMass wants to attract out-of-staters, it NEEDS to make the school more accessible! I wouldn’t be opposed to 9-month housing except 1) who really wants to stay alone at school on Thanksgiving? 2) I would feel obligated to take a Jan-Term class, but those cost money and now they start before Christmas (another ridiculous policy making life harder for out-of-staters), and 3) if I didn’t do a Jan-Term class, I would basically be paying $300 for 5 more days on campus.

    UMass should definitely cancel all the Wednesday classes.

  2. Ben Rudnick says:

    Well, I don’t know if the answer is to close down the school for the whole week, like all the other schools in the area, or if the solution is to be more accommodating to the students who want/need to stay on campus. However, it does seem hypocritical to require students to attend classes on Wednesday when so many other establishments on campus are closed. In particular, the store in the Student Union was closed, as was the snack bar in Herter Hall. I am sure that someone will write in and say that these businesses are not run by the school , and that they therefore have no say in whether those outlets stay open or not. Be that as it may, it sends a mixed message, and the school should either commit to having a regular day on Wednesday, if that is what they believe to be right, or they should give up on the half-measures and close everything down.

    Of course, I live off-campus, so the whole situation is not nearly as troubling for me as it is for those who depend on the school for their room and board.

    Ben Rudnick
    Collegian Columnist

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