Opinion: On Fall Break

A week? In the middle of October? Where are you going? Are you spending money on expensive tickets to fly home and spend the same amount for Thanksgiving break? Or are you twiddling your thumbs in Commons, waiting to escape the turkey burgers and claustrophobia? The upcoming fall break is inconvenient for international students and expensive for multiple individuals. And Reed College isn’t helping by the lack of opportunities for individuals staying on campus. Extending fall break into Thanksgiving break would allow students to return home without strenuous planning or atrocious spending. 

Let’s break it down into a common hypothetical situation. Imagine a Reed student from California planning a trip to fly back home for fall and Thanksgiving break this year. On the first day of break, this California student packs up and leaves from the grasps of Reed’s campus. However, to get to the airport, they take an Uber and leave their Toyota Camry, so there goes the first $30 on the Uber. Finally, the student arrives at the airport and boards their PDX to LAX flight, which is $287 for Spirit airlines, so let’s consider the medical helicopter flight after the crash: a rough estimate of $39,000. Finally, the student arrives at LAX and heads home for a relaxing fall break. Until they have to undergo the same trip a couple of weeks later for Thanksgiving break. While this exhausting layout doesn’t even include Christmas break, in the end, the student is looking at spending about $900 – $1500.

Now, I am not complaining about a break from mindless reading and Moodle; however,  I was caught deciding on spending my money to return home for the fall break or Thanksgiving break. But for some students, there isn’t even a choice. Not only is it especially difficult for international students to fly back home, but it is extremely expensive as well. Not all students have the money to travel for fall, thanksgiving, and winter break. I talked to an international student living on my floor. He stated that he had no plans of returning home, and [was instead] staying within the United States with a family member. However, without the accessibility of family, there wasn’t much of an option besides staying on campus. 

As of 2021, Reed College is composed of 7% international students. To clarify, that makes around 109 students out of the 1,560 students (the total enrollment from the beginning of the school year) who are international students. And the October break doesn’t only affect international students. For the students who decide to stay on campus, there aren’t many opportunities. For instance, a student can go on a trip with the Gray Fund program, but only if they win the lottery system, which is unreliable within itself. Some of the fall break trips include a weekend in Florence, Oregon or the Cat Lounge Excursion, which are all understandably limited outings; however, only ten students are chosen. A very slim picking. This is clearly inconvenient for many students since the roster for the trips isn’t even released until a couple days before the start of fall break. So, have a good backup plan ready! I am particularly highlighting this issue since the Gray Fund, and its “adventures” are advertised as easily obtainable. I have entered myself within multiple lottery trips, but knowing the system, I am not betting on “winning” anytime soon. Other schools, like Lewis and Clark’s College Outdoors program, provide a large variety of outdoor trips for their fall break, which are first-come, first-serve registration, something Reed does not have but should follow. Having such a system allows the most passionate students to sign up first and then plan their schedules from there. Also, the outdoor trips that Lewis and Clark provide for their students include a wider variety of opportunities during the fall break. So, at least they are getting their money’s worth. 

The fall break is so unique to Reed College’s academic calendar, which is great. We get a breather, which most students don’t. But, since a decent number of international students and students generally find it difficult and expensive to leave in the middle of October, they are stuck on the campus. The fall break is a great escape from the constant state of haze, but if October break was extended into Thanksgiving break, it would allow students to spend money and time on one trip home. In addition, it would allow students to spend a couple of weeks with their family, especially during a holiday, and then return to school, instead of traveling back and forth or simply staying put on campus. 

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Mary Ellen
Mary Ellen
1 year ago

It’s called "break" because it breaks the bank. Ha. Great article.

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