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Students, faculty discuss possibility of fall break at U.

Students and faculty discuss the parameters and benefits of implementing a fall break at Rutgers. – Photo by Rutgers.edu

Passing the halfway point of the semester, Rutgers students and faculty discuss the possibility of a fall break to recoup their thoughts and reduce stress between midterms and final exams.

With Rutgers' current academic calendar, regular classes started on September 6 and will end on December 14. In these 15 weeks of classes, students have one four-day weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving from November 24 to November 27.

Rahul Sinha, a Rutgers Business School sophomore, said at the beginning of the semester that students feel hastened by courses that can have multiple midterm exams.

"(With the structure of my classes) it would be midterm for one class, then midterm for another class and then midterm for the … first class, just back to back to back," Sinha said.

He said implementing a fall break might alleviate pressure between those midterms and the final exam.

Other students, such as Sophia Dale, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said a break around October or November would be appropriate since there is no break between the start of the semester and Thanksgiving break.

As a biology major, she said she undergoes a multitude of exams, and at times, this can be stressful.

Students and faculty also spoke on possible modifications to the academic calendar, such as changing when school starts or ends to accommodate a fall break.

Demetri Lallas, director of academic integrity at the Rutgers Writing Program and assistant teaching professor in the English Department, said he would not mind a fall break, and he sees no problem with starting earlier so students could benefit from a timely recess.

“I think it'd be cool to have a fall break just like we have a spring break,” he said.

Lallas said he does not think a fall break would affect his teaching and the semester would function similarly to the spring semester, with a break to split the period in half. Additionally, Lallas said he wishes there was more space between the last day of finals and December 24.

Rutgers starts a week later than many schools across the country and schools in New Jersey. In comparison, The College of New Jersey begins its classes in late August, and alongside Princeton University, the two have a fall break as well as a four-day weekend for Thanksgiving recess.

Bonnie Butler, an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, said starting the fall semester earlier might be difficult for individuals who work or vacation during the summer up until Labor Day.

Though she prefers starting the semester after Labor Day, she said there is still pressure in concluding the fall semester before winter break.

Butler said that, as an instructor, she would benefit if the University implemented a fall break to catch up on grading and prepare for the remainder of the semester.

Jamil Bitar, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said that during the semester, he has rarely felt so stressed that a break was absolutely necessary, so while he may appreciate a fall break, not having one, does not substantially impact him.

One way he manages stress during the school year is by making sure that he spends time on non-work related activities after an especially intense period of assignments and exams, Bitar said.

Sinha said he copes with stress by minimizing distractions while working but thinks this is difficult while attending Rutgers. He said he wishes there were better strategies to combat stressful coursework.

Butler also said she sometimes feels overwhelmed when she has several pending assignments to grade, but she spaces out her work to limit being sedentary for long periods of time.

"I find a lot of things in life. The more you think about doing them, the worse they seem and you just need … to sit down and start," she said. "And being organized and planning ahead works equally well for instructors and students."


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