Updated: Dec. 2, 2014 at 4:18 p.m.
GW is one step closer to taking a few days of classes off its academic calendar.
The Student Association unanimously passed a bill Monday that calls for a fall break, which could be added to the calendar as early as next year.
The “Give Me a [Fall] Break Act,” introduced by Sen. Thomas Falcigno, CCAS-U, and freshman Sen. Alyssa Weakley, has already earned support from Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Planning Forrest Maltzman.
Falcigno said Maltzman was receptive to the idea when the senator brought it up during their monthly meeting, and that Matlzman said it was possible. Maltzman also plans to work with a committee in the spring that would look at how the break could fit into GW’s academic calendar, Falcigno said.
“It’s pretty feasible based on what we’ve seen,” Falcigno said.
Weakley was interested in the idea of a fall break as a way to address the growing attention to mental health at the University, in the wake of three student suicides in the spring and another suicide attempt this fall.
She said an October break, right around the time of midterms, would help alleviate some built-up tension so students can “gather their thoughts.”
“It’s a stressful time period. You’ve got midterms, you’ve been gone from home a long time and Thanksgiving break is awhile to go,” Weakley said. “It’s important to have some kind of break. Even if it’s just a day or two, it still helps.”
A break has been suggested in previous years, Falcigno said, but has never gained much traction. Falcigno and Weakley will meet with the Center of Student Engagement’s director, Tim Miller, on Wednesday. Miller has already worked on similar proposals.
Compared to peer schools, GW is an outlier in not offering a fall break. Falcigno and Weakley found that 13 of the 15 schools GW considers its peers have a break. Those schools, including Duke and American universities, give students an average of two days off sometime close to Columbus Day weekend.
There’s also some precedent at GW for a fall break: The GW Law School offers a “Fall Recess” for first-year students for two days in October.
“I’d love to say it’s definitely going to happen. I think eventually it will happen. It’s kind of ‘when’ and ‘how’ we’re going to do it, and the logistics of it,” Falcigno said.
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly spelled the last name of Alyssa Weakley. It is Weakley, not Weekly. We regret this error.