Poll: Should NIU have a fall break?


Mingda Wu

The MLK Commons at Northern Illinois University. Northern Star’s Madelaine Vikse looks into whether its valuable for students to have a fall break.

By Madelaine Vikse, Editor-in-Chief

Students look forward to school breaks such as Thanksgiving break and spring break, using the time to relax and study.

At most universities, a fall break tends to be two days, such as a Thursday and a Friday or a Friday and a Monday, Executive Vice President and Provost Beth Ingram said. 

“I think that the idea (of a fall break) is that it’s sort of a catch-up time, a little bit of a break, a little bit of a pause,” Ingram said.

That time could be used for students to catch up on schoolwork and have some time to relax. 

Does this mean that NIU should consider adding a fall break to its academic calendar? Maybe in the future, but not now. While some time off to catch up on work sounds nice, there’s more to it.

“The issue we’ve always faced is trying to fit that (a fall break) into a calendar that meets the HLC accreditation requirements,” Ingram said.

Higher Learning Commission (HLC) requirements that institutions must follow in order to be granted candidate or accredited status, according to the Higher Learning Commission’s website. NIU has an accrediting agency that has rules about how many minutes every face-to-face class has to meet, Ingram said.

NIU has a Thanksgiving break during fall semesters which consists of no classes Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the week of Thanksgiving. NIU’s Fall 2022 schedule saw classes start Aug. 22 and end Dec. 3, with finals week taking place from Dec. 5 to Dec. 10. 

Loyola University Chicago’s Fall 2022 schedule saw classes start on Aug. 29 and end Dec. 10, with finals week taking place from Dec. 12 to Dec. 17. Loyola’s schedule is similar to NIU’s and is just a week behind, while also including a two-day mid-semester break on Oct. 10 and Oct. 11, a Monday and Tuesday.

“Right now we take three days off at Thanksgiving,” Ingram said. “So we’re missing a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. We take a Monday off for Labor Day and then every other year we take a Tuesday off for Election Day. And so there are five days missed that we’ve already accommodated. So now we’ve got to find a way to accommodate, you know, a few more days. It’s not that it’s not doable, it’s just, you know, things would have to end, things would have to change in ways that maybe students haven’t thought about.”

Introducing a fall break would cause a variety of issues. Students that work between semesters would have less time to do so. 

Adding a fall break could also translate into more costs, Ingram said. If residence and dining halls were open during this hypothetical break, staff members would need to be paid for those additional days.

“We have had discussions over the last couple of years about what that (a fall break) might look like or logistically how we might accommodate that and you know, our number one goal is for our students to be successful and to support them,” Ingram said. “And so if a fall break would support that, that’s great. It’s sort of the logistical issues of when do you start the semester. Do you end it later? Do you add more time to classes?”

NIU including a fall break into its schedule is not worth the hassle. We don’t need to make the fall semester longer for “time off” when that would have students returning to school earlier or ending the fall semester later. Neither option sounds as appealing as having more time between the spring and fall semesters.

If NIU implements a fall break in the future, the break should be something that a majority of students express a need for. The break could be no classes for two days of a week mid-semester. Another option could be the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. Sure, there would still be some things to figure out logistically, but if a fall break becomes something that students need, it may be worth it.

This poll has ended.

Should NIU have a fall break?


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