Today, most New York City-area colleges return from spring break. Consequently, I had a lighter workload last week because I didn’t have to teach at Fordham and because my office at NYU was more in a spring-cleaning mode than in our usual panicked, fire-extinguishing mode.
But at CUNY, we didn’t have the renewing benefits of that break. Instead, students and faculty have to endure another three weeks before we get our break. Why? Because our break is tied to the Easter and Passover holidays.
Merging Easter and Passover break with Spring Break might make sense for primary and secondary schools because families schedule holiday travel around this break, although my family never did. But in college, where the workload is much more intensive on students and faculty, this break is more urgently needed: scheduling it at the half-way point of the semester makes a lot of sense.
Because Easter and Passover always fall on different days of the year, due to the incompatibilities of the solar and lunar calendars, the CUNY Spring Break can start as early as late-March or end as late as late April. This year, our break comes towards the latter end of this period. That means we have about eleven weeks of classes before we get the benefit of a break. Right now, I’m exhausted. My students are exhausted. We could really benefit from hitting the pause button for a week.
Moreover, because of this scheduling, my class will be on break for two weeks, not just one. We will have our last pre-break meeting on April 7, and then we won’t meet again until April 28. It’s going to hard to gear back up after two weeks off. When we return, we’re going to have only two weeks before final papers are due, and three weeks before the final exam. This isn’t a midterm break: it’s an intersession!
CUNY does a lot of things well for our students, but sometimes, we do things that disadvantage our students compared to other universities.