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Six-Week Rest

Six-Week Rest

Update on the Combined Winter Break 

By Ben Wexler  

If Walla Walla University administration approves the Combined Winter Break Bill for the 2022-23 school year, students will have finals wrapped up before Thanksgiving and enjoy a six-week long break from turkey day through Christmas and just past the New Year. 

The pandemic limited access to our campus during the 2020-21 school year, with colleges across the country adjusting their plans to reduce contact from holiday travel. A combined break was the result, leading students to wonder—why don’t we do this every year?  

A petition to combine the breaks was created, and the feedback was clear. “That report was overwhelmingly in favor of the bill,” said Hayden Sherrill, resident dean and ASWWU District 5 senator, remarking on the number of students who voted for the combined break. [1]  

The final petition received 657 responses, including 599 students and 55 faculty and staff. Of the responses, 91% were in favor of the combined break. The bill was passed by senate receiving “almost unanimous support,” said Gabran Arruda, ASWWU’s current parliamentarian and chief justice. [2] Arruda further emphasized, “I am in the process of getting in contact with administration to talk about the potential for this being a reality.” [3] 

Arruda was unsure if administration would approve the winter break bill. “They seem pretty strong at keeping the breaks separate. So, I think it is going to be a little bit of a difficult journey,” Arruda concluded. [4] 

A combined break would allow students to focus on spending time with loved ones and go into Thanksgiving without having to worry about finals looming just a week later. It is also cost-effective, saving students with long commutes from having to make two round trips. With the virus still prevalent, a combined break also reduces the chances of COVID-19 outbreaks from returning students during the height of the winter cold and flu season.  

A combined break does not come without concerns. Most evidently, the holiday events such as the Christmas tree lighting and the music department Christmas concert would be either canceled or rescheduled.  

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A graduate in a yellow robe and graduation cap walks into the distance on a trail, while their parents hold hands in the foreground, watching them walk away.

The Annual Christmas Tree Lighting, likely to be cancelled with the passing of the Combined Winter Break Bill. Photo from https://bit.ly/3KyxGQK.

Another concern is for international students and their living arrangements during the closed-dorm break. “If the break were so long, it would be potentially harder for international students to find somewhere to stay for such a long period of time,” said Sherill. [5] A longer break means that it is more likely for distant commuters to go home, but the senate is aware of the concern if a student decides to remain in Walla Walla.  

You might be wondering why we did not have a combined break this year. Originally, a bill to combine the breaks was proposed, but it did not have enough notice to be passed. “That one was too late notice for any changes to be made for this school year,” said Sherrill. Sherrill went on to describe how ASWWU Senate proposed this bill earlier, to ensure enough notice for administration to plan for the next winter break. [6] 

References 

  1. Interview with Hayden Sherrill, 1/17/2022. 
  1. Interview with Gabran Arruda, 1/19/2022. 
  1. Ibid
  1. Ibid
  1. Interview with Hayden Sherrill, 1/17/2022. 
  1. Ibid

Photos 

  1. A vacant Walla Walla campus during the peak of Winter Quarter. Photo from https://bit.ly/3tWvZ9T
  1. The Annual Christmas Tree Lighting, likely to be cancelled with the passing of the Combined Winter Break Bill. Photo from https://bit.ly/3KyxGQK
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