If you were getting used to having two lengthy full weeks off every spring semester, you’re out of luck. This next year will be the beginning of a new precedent set by the university to change Loyola’s academic calendar. The new schedule will shorten either Easter break or Mardi Gras break, depending on the year.
This decision may understandably result in some frustration from students. We have been using these breaks to not only take time off from classes, but also visit our families and go on vacations we wouldn’t otherwise be afforded had we attended a different college. Having two spring breaks has been a luxury we have accepted with open arms. While our neighbors at Tulane had their breaks combined into one during Mardi Gras this past year, we were getting ready to take two vacations – all within the span of a few months of each other.
Yet those of us who remember the winter of early 2018 may see a rationale for these schedule changes. During that winter, an irregular cold front blew into New Orleans, covering everything in a layer of frost and reaching freezing temperatures. As a city so far South, we don’t have the infrastructure to handle a cold climate – and as a result, the roads iced over, pipes froze and burst in houses, and school was ultimately cancelled for safety concerns.
This hiatus went on for two days. We rejoiced having school off, but later, it became apparent that missing these two days of school put our university in jeopardy with maintaining a proper academic calendar. According to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, there are a certain number of days of class required in a academic year to meet accreditation standards. Missing these days led us to miss the mark and forced us to hold make-up classes, many of which our professors struggled to schedule around their own personal lives.
The choice to change our Spring Break next year – making it from April 9 through April 13, essentially a long weekend rather than a full week – is disappointing but responsible.
New Orleans is a relatively disaster-prone city. We have hurricanes that threaten the Gulf region almost every year, and events like the freeze incident show how vulnerable we are to the university having to close. Building in days into our academic calendar that we can use in extreme weather incidents or other events is essential to maintaining our accreditation status.
Although it’s unfortunate that we won’t be taking two weeks off next spring semester, we ought to embrace these changes that are coming. The two-week-break system was only implemented in 2007, and prior to that, the schedule we are switching to existed. We are simply reverted back to what Loyola always did – take one full week and one long weekend off each spring.
Having a shorter break might feel daunting, but as students, we should try to understand that this is a matter of accreditation issues and will protect us from problems if natural disasters or other unforeseen circumstances arise. In the end, having two spring breaks is cool – but having a degree from an accredited university is much cooler.