New calendars could nix long Easter weekends

A tradition of giving students a break around the Easter weekend may be coming to an end, according to past and proposed university calendars.

Calendars dating as far back as at least 1990-91 show students typically were given a recess beginning on Good Friday and ending either the Monday or Tuesday after Easter. Some years, Easter and spring break were combined into one recess.

But beginning next year, students for the first time in at least 20 years won’t have Good Friday off. Proposed academic calendars through the 2020-21 school year show students will continue to have classes on Good Friday.

Students who were shown copies of the proposed calendars said that no longer having a day off or a partial day off the Monday after Easter may cause problems for traveling back to school.

“Those Mondays were always nice because I’d go and visit family,” senior Jake Hatcher said, “and they live kind of far away, so I’d actually be able to spend the whole day with them on Sunday and then come back late Sunday and not have to worry about getting back to Eau Claire that Monday,” senior Jake Hatcher said.

Susan Harrison, an associate math professor and a University Senate president, said the shift doesn’t reflect a change in policy at the university. She said there never was a rule mandating a recess on Good Friday or the Monday following Easter, and that there is no current rule prohibiting taking those days off.

She also said the change has more to do with course logistics than with religious issues.

Science professors require as many full weeks of class as possible to ensure students can attend laboratory sessions, Harrison said, explaining that was one of the primary reasons behind shifting the university’s calendar approach to Easter.

“It became a strong, strong push from the science faculty that we need that Friday,” Harrison said. “And the same way on the Monday (after Easter).”

She also said taking off the Monday after Easter isn’t necessary because most students in the past usually have arrived back to school in time for class Monday morning.

“It’s not in disrespect for any holiday. It’s the reality that most of the students are back Monday morning and they’re in the dorms already,” Harrison said.

Senior Kyrie Smith said the move to get rid of the Easter recess reflects a lack of respect for students with religious backgrounds.

She also said she thinks there are other ways around conflicts with science professors’ lab times than getting rid of the Easter recess.

“I just think that’s kind of a weak argument to say, ‘Well, we needed those extra days so we just took it from here,’ ” Smith said.

“I think you’re being ignorant of the fact of how that’s going to affect other people. Just because it’s not how you spend your holiday, it’s going to affect all these people over here.”