By Kedrick Nettleton, Contributing Writer
Sometimes all a college student needs is some time away from campus – and this Thanksgiving, students here on Bison Hill will get more of that than they ever have for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“The campus voted 88 percent in favor of the measure to add two energy efficiency days to the fall semester calendar to coincide with Thanksgiving Break,” VP of academic affairs Dr. Susan DeWoody said.
A similar calendar adjustment was approved this year by many of the public school districts in Oklahoma, who will also get a full week off for the holiday.
According to a press release from the university, the Oklahoma Baptist Board of Trustees approved the calendar changes in May of this year, during the same session in which they gave the green light for the renovation of the Geiger Center.
Officially, the two extra days for Thanksgiving are being called “energy conservation days” – the hope is that keeping the campus closed down for the entire week of Thanksgiving will result in energy savings for the school.
A similar decision by the Oklahoma City Public School district to extend the break was approved as part of a larger calendar change, according to a story by NewsOK.
The biggest change to OBU’s calendar was actually to approve a later start to the academic year, putting it a few weeks back into August and allowing more students to attend the pivotal first week of class.
No matter the reasons for the change, it has received a generally positive reaction among students at OBU, who seem grateful for a few more days to catch their breath before the end-of-year craziness fully begins.
“I was really excited to hear we were getting a full week off for Thanksgiving this year,” said senior finance major Libby Unruh. “It’s going to be so nice having more time to spend with family and less time worrying about classes.”
Unruh also cites the distance that some students travel for the holidays as a possible factor in the decision.
“It’s especially great for those who have longer travels home so that they have the chance to go enjoy time with their family and don’t have to rush back to school or stay in Shawnee because they didn’t have enough time to travel,” she said.
The mood about the change amongst professors on campus seems a little more mixed. Some professors are hesitant about the change, although they acknowledge that the move comes with positives and negatives.
“I have mixed feelings about it,” said Brent Newsom, associate professor of English. “It will be nice to have a full week with my family, but it does force us to compress or omit some material in each class,” he said.
It is possible within the department of English, and specifically within the Western Civ coursework, that the changes to the calendar will be most strongly felt.
In a course in which the readings and lectures are so interconnected, two extra break days can make a big difference to the lesson plans that professors put together.
Newsom said he is concerned with another issue, as well: for college students, no break is ever quite long enough.
“Like some other faculty, as well, I worry that some students will still take off early, skipping out on classes Friday or even the Thursday before the break,” he said. “It remains to be seen whether this worry will be founded or not, but it seems unlikely that a move towards more holiday time will ever be very unpopular on a college campus.