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10-11-21-fall-campus-derek-wong
A student walks through campus on Oct. 11. Credit: Derek Wong

With just two days of fall break, students are excited for the time off from school, but wish the break was longer. 

Many students said the return to in-person classes has been stressful, and they are highly anticipating time away from school. Penn’s fall break will run from Thursday, Oct. 14 through Sunday, Oct. 17. Even with this break period, some students are frustrated by professors assigning homework and midterms due right after the break. Penn also has the fewest days off of all the Ivy League schools.

College first year Elaine Sun who is heading home to Wisconsin must complete a midterm essay over the break. Sun is enrolled in a Health and Societies course, which has a midterm essay due on Oct. 18. She will be given the prompt on Tuesday, Oct. 12, which only leaves one full day to work on the paper before the start of fall break. 

For others, the long weekend will be a long-awaited opportunity to take a break from their studies. Engineering junior Janavi Chadha said she hopes fall break will be a time to de-stress with her family and cat in Dallas before the rest of the semester unfolds. 

Many international students will not be able to travel home due to the short break. Engineering first year Leon Kabue and College first year Faith Uchi, both of whom are from Kenya, are planning on visiting the East Coast together instead of taking a transatlantic flight home. 

The pair is planning to travel to New York, where Uchi wants to see the New York Aquarium, and maybe Boston. Both students said fall break should be extended to one week, especially because of the amount of schoolwork students must complete during the time off.

Uchi added that she has a CIS 110: Introduction to Computer Programming assignment to complete over break.

While an extended break would give students more time to relax and visit family, Penn administrators previously told The Daily Pennsylvanian that the University’s current calendar can not warrant more days off. The Pennsylvania Code, the official codification of rules and regulations issued by the Commonwealth, has established certain learning requirements that restrict Penn from taking away more days. 

“A semester credit hour represents a unit of curricular material that normally can be taught in a minimum of 14 hours of classroom instruction,” according to The Pennsylvania Code. Removing just a few days could prevent Penn from reaching the 14 hours of classroom instruction necessary to be recognized as a postsecondary education institution.

Penn’s Academic Calendar has been finalized through the 2023-2024 school year and includes the same two days off from school in either the first or second week of October for fall break.

College sophomore Lacey Rivera, who is from Philadelphia, is going to see family during the days off. Although her family lives close by, Rivera said having one long break during the semester would make it easier for more students to travel home.

Several other Ivy League universities, including Dartmouth College and Brown University do not have any fall breaks, and rather have more days off around Thanksgiving.

“If your family can only afford one flight to come back home for a break, it would be nicer to come home for a longer Thanksgiving break,” Rivera said. 

Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé wrote in an email to all Penn undergraduates on Oct. 11 that he hopes students "take time to rest, reset and prioritize [their] self-care" during fall break.

"This downtime is critical to your physical and mental wellbeing, and will help to better position you for success for the remainder of the fall semester," Dubé wrote.

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