Committee considers changes to college’s academic calendar


(Photo: Alex Kirkpatrick/The Simpsonian)

by Kayla Reusche, Special to The Simpsonian

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Simpson students may soon be able to make spring break plans with their friends for 2019.

A summer committee is considering changes to Simpson College’s academic calendar, including the timing of fall, Thanksgiving and spring breaks.

Jody Ragan, the registrar at Simpson, was asked to put the summer committee together. The committee, which includes administrators, faculty and students reviews potential changes to the calendar.

The hot topics included fall, Thanksgiving and spring breaks, Ragan said.

“We brought up questions like: ‘Is our fall break long enough? Do we need a fall break? Do we need an Easter break and a spring break?’ We laid out lots of questions,” Ragan said.

After the calendar committee decides on whether changes should be made, they will send recommendations to the president’s cabinet.

A typical concern about the fall semester is how short fall and Thanksgiving breaks are. This year, fall break was Oct. 19-20 and Thanksgiving break is Nov. 22-24. Each break only allows students a few days off from school, making it difficult for some to see their families.

This is especially difficult for the growing number of out-of-state students at Simpson.

The calendar committee is discussing if having one, weeklong break for Thanksgiving would be more beneficial. Currently, all public universities in Iowa offer weeklong Thanksgiving breaks.

David Moissonnier, a junior from Peoria, Arizona, experiences the downside of the short breaks.

A 24-hour drive and a costly flight are out of the question for him.

Although he has to stay on campus for fall break anyway, since he is on the football team, he is unable to make it home for Thanksgiving.

“There’s no point in me flying back, especially with doing it every year,” Moissonnier said. The only breaks long enough for him to travel home for are Christmas and spring break.

Although some students are at a disadvantage when it comes to fall break, the school is weighing the academic side as well as students’ well-being when it comes to their decision.

“Students hit a point in the semester where you’ve just given everything you’ve got and need that break,” Ragan said.
For other out-of-state students, the breaks aren’t as problematic. Freshman Carter Stacey, from Lawrence, Kansas, doesn’t see a problem with the two separate breaks in the fall.

“I honestly don’t think it would make a difference,” Stacey said. “I think if I couldn’t go home for fall break then I’d want one big break.”

Since her drive home is only about three and a half hours, Stacey doesn’t experience the problems other out-of-state students do.

In addition to fall break, the summer group also discussed the possibility of changing when spring break is. The way the calendar is set up makes it difficult for faculty and students to coordinate plans with their friends and family. Many schools’ spring breaks are later than Simpson’s, Ragan said.

Moissonnier has previously been able to make it home for spring break, but this year may be different.

His brother, a freshman at Iowa State University, is on spring break the week after Simpson. The difference in the timing of their breaks is making Moissonnier rethink his spring break plans.

For those who want Simpson to change the dates of spring break, good news may be coming.

“I can tell you that spring break is heavily leaning toward being proposed to move it,” Ragan said.

Students can hope for a decision by the end of this fall or early spring, but the changes wouldn’t go into effect immediately.

If a decision is made promptly, changes to spring break could be reflected in the spring 2019 calendar.

Ragan said the committee still has a couple of meetings left before it is ready to send in its recommendations.