Penn students don’t get a lot of time off. In the 2017-2018 school year, we had the fewest amount of days off out of any Ivy League school, receiving almost 27 fewer days off than Princeton University students. Penn students are yet again reminded of this reality this week, with only two days off for the Thanksgiving break, with the first day off being the holiday itself. To promote student well-being and allow students greater travel flexibility, Penn must expand this break by adding the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
While expanding the holiday by a day or two may seem like a trivial change, it has several major benefits. Life at Penn can be stressful, and there’s a lot that needs to be done to address student wellness. Giving students an extra day is a small step, but particularly as finals are approaching, it is important to have an opportunity to relax and decompress, spending time with family or friends.
Lengthening the holiday would have benefits for students concerned with money. The day before Thanksgiving is frequently the busiest travel day of the year, and as a result, is often one of the most expensive days to fly on. Giving students that day off allows more flexibility for travel plans, meaning less money spent on airfare and less time spent in traffic going to the airport or train station. Traveling home can be prohibitively expensive for low-income students, and so this policy change could make the difference for people who would otherwise be forced to spend Thanksgiving at Penn.
In the past, the administration has argued that Pennsylvania state law prevents Penn from adding more days off to justify short breaks. This hasn’t limited schools like Swarthmore College, which is also in Pennsylvania, from giving its students longer fall breaks, reading day periods, and winter breaks than Penn. While Penn may have to remove a day or two off summer break to implement a longer Thanksgiving break, the benefits of an additional day off during the school year outweigh the cost of losing an additional day of summer.
Penn students are stressed enough as is. Penn students stay up later than students at most other schools and deal with tremendous pressures on a daily basis. Penn can take a small step to show its commitment to prioritizing student wellness and making breaks more accessible to all students by giving everyone time to be thankful and expanding the Thanksgiving break.
Editorials represent the majority view of members of The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. Editorial Board, which meets regularly to discuss issues relevant to Penn's campus. Participants in these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on related topics.