When the faculty senate reached out to the USM community in early December for input on possible changes to the academic calendar, survey participants said they wanted everything to stay the same.
The idea to align the academic calendars of all seven UMaine campuses has been brought up regularly throughout the fall semester by system-level administrators as a way to unify the many arms of the system. System administrators are looking into changing USM’s spring start date, changing the dates of breaks and possibly moving from having two one-week breaks to having one two-week break instead.
The USM community says they’re content with our current schedule though, with 67 percent of 753 respondents saying they prefer multiple one week breaks over a longer break.
Right now, USM’s academic schedule is molded to match that of the local K-12 programs. Because the university has such a non-traditional student body, many respondents noted that being able to share vacations with their children is an absolute must.
“For faculty who have children in schools, having our break align with the K-12 school breaks as much as possible is optimal,” commented one respondent. “This is also true for our non-traditional students who are parents.”
If parents’ schedules didn’t match up with their children’s breaks, they would have to find childcare coverage, which can quickly become expensive in many cases.
“Not having the same time off will greatly impact their attendance in classes,” wrote another respondent on students with young children.
Other comments noted that switching to a two-week break would halt any progress being made in class and that students can forget a lot in or find it hard to get back into the swing of things after two weeks of vacation.
“The one two-week break makes it seem like school is done,” wrote a respondent. “Going back after [would be] really difficult.”
“You should definitely keep the two separate one week vacations. It provides us students with the opportunity to get a small break in between stressful classes,” wrote another.
There were some supporters of the two-week break among the replies, most citing the want to align our spring break with other colleges for serious vacation time and general unity of the campuses. Some supporters of the change still recognized that this would be an inconvenience to parents.
When the survey was distributed, there were some in the community who were alarmed, thinking that USM was going to alter our breaks for the coming semester, which would affect vacation plans which some people plan months ahead of time.
Christopher Quint, the executive director of public affairs, emailed all students, staff and faculty, reiterating that the administration was gathering input on possible changes to vacations in future academic calendar years, not the spring of 2015.