EdBoard: fall break

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

As we start the seventh week of classes (didn’t the semester just start last week?), we will be halfway through the semester as of Friday. Next week is Fall Break, a week off of classes which was created to give students a more balanced feel between the semesters. Both the fall and spring semesters are built on a “7-1-7” mentality. The semesters start with seven weeks of classes, there’s a one week break, and then seven more weeks of classes before finals.

In previous years, the fall mid-semester break has only been one or two days — not nearly enough time for students to actually take a break from classes. A full week offers the chance for students to take time to relax, travel abroad or home if they want, and actually remove themselves from school.

A popular counterargument to an extended fall break is that it cuts instructional days. Last year, Carnegie Mellon also had 14-week semesters, but only a two day mid-semester break. Despite this, there was one less instructional day last year. The current proposed 2023-2024 academic calendar is currently slated to have 65 instructional days in the fall semester, like this year and also includes a week-long fall break. As the fall break appears to be here to stay, it must seem to have some benefit to the administration.

One of the most frustrating opinions that students seem to have about fall break is that some professors will still assign an excessive amount of coursework to be completed over break. Why are students giving professors such little credit? Fall break is also a chance for faculty to relax; they’re people just like students are. It seems many students believe professors always have it out for them, which isn’t the case. So, instead of complaining about a week-long break, some students should reevaluate their relationship with their schoolwork and professors.

Professors aren’t here to overwork their students or ensure they fail — if that is the case, then their position should be reviewed. They’re here to ensure students learn what they need to be successful. Most professors are willing to make accommodations and work with their students to a reasonable degree. Regardless of these, we’ve heard many students demonize their professors, which is an unreasonable way to treat them.

Those in opposition also seem to forget how nice it is to have a break in the middle of a semester, especially for mini classes. The 7-1-7 model allows for a week break between first-half and second-half mini classes, which simply makes sense. The week-long break allows for clear separation for first-half minis to wrap up and preparation for second-half minis to begin.

It’s no secret that there is a general feeling that Carnegie Mellon students tend to overwork themselves and have a Stockholm Syndrome-like relationship with their work. Our work holds us captive from actually taking the time to relax, take a break, and hang out with friends, but we continue to do our work anyways out of fear of falling behind our peers or simply not being or doing enough. It’s a tale as old as time on this campus, and that mentality needs to change. Enjoying yourself is just as essential a part of the college experience as the education that we are receiving, and that sentiment seems to be lacking from a sizable portion of the student body.

We at the Tartan implore you to please just take a moment to relax next week during fall break. The world’s not going to end because you decided to go out with some friends for an evening or travel home to see your family. After all, your life will continue long after you leave Carnegie Mellon, so take the time to learn how to enjoy yourself while you’re here. Taking a break doesn’t make you any less of a student; it actually adds to the experience by ensuring you are taking care of yourself. So this fall break, make sure you look out for yourself.