Thanksgiving break length varies between schools

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Students hoping to go home for the holidays will have to wait until Thursday for classes to officially be dismissed, according to the UT-Austin academic calendar.

The federal calendar designates the last Thursday of November as the official Thanksgiving holiday, and the state of Texas provides the Friday following Thanksgiving as an optional holiday available to businesses and institutions. University director of human resource services Adrienne Howarth-Moore said state officials have designated a number of dates as optional holidays, which educational institutions can disperse throughout the academic calendar at the discretion of administration.

Howarth-Moore said this year, as well as previous years, UT officials have not chosen to designate the day before Thanksgiving as an optional holiday.

“They give us the option to move some of those holidays to best fit the needs of the students,” Howarth-Moore said. “Every year the number of those are different, but the ones not used we move to winter break so the students can be off campus as long as possible.”

Some students, such as actuary science junior Laken Edwards, do not feel UT officials were acting in the best interest of students by scheduling Thanksgiving break from Nov. 24 to 27. Edwards said she has flown home to Chicago to be with her family each year since she enrolled at UT and is aggravated annually by transportation prices. Edwards said plane ticket prices skyrocket around Thanksgiving, and she doesn’t get nearly enough time with her family for the amount she pays.

“It is an important holiday, and I couldn’t imagine not spending it with my family,” Edwards said. “Usually I can find flights to Chicago for around $200, but we booked this flight in September and even then it was $400.”

Edwards said she is missing Tuesday and Wednesday classes in order to fly home prior to the holiday and feels it would be more appropriate for the University to allow students to take the entire week off.

“Even having Wednesday off isn’t enough,” Edwards said. “There are other great schools that have the whole week off, and if we really need the extra attendance days I would rather begin school earlier in the year.”

Students and faculty at Sul Ross State University in Alpine were released for Thanksgiving break following classes Friday. Stephen Lang, director of news and publications at Sul Ross, said he does not know of any other public universities in Texas providing the same privilege.

Lang said Alpine is approximately three and one-half hours from the nearest airport, and having a weeklong break eases stress over travel time.

“It’s a nice perk for students and the faculty members that are gone, too,” Lang said. “It’s nice for traveling and preparing for family coming into town. Of the four universities I’ve worked at, this is the first place where we’ve had the extra time.” 

Printed on Monday, November 22, 2011 as: Thanksgiving break left to administration's discretion