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Professor speaks on why CSU should have an earlier break

It’s that time of the year again — students are scrambling to complete projects and study for finals within the two-week period between Thanksgiving break and finals week.

But it’s easy to see why students are left feeling burnt out even before Thanksgiving break, which comes after three months of academic work without any break at all. 


Compared to other universities throughout the country, Colorado State University’s breaks are few and far between, leaving students to question why CSU chooses not to add more breaks throughout the fall semester. 

Tim Gallagher, CSU finance professor and chair of the Faculty Council, said deciding what days to take off in a semester is not something so easily done. 

“When you ask why we don’t have Veterans Day off, know that that was definitely considered and that there were other holidays competing against that,” Gallagher said. “There are good arguments for having some holidays that we don’t recognize, but if we give Veterans Day off to students, then we’ve got to make it up somewhere else with a holiday that we’re already honoring.”

The Faculty Council considers the input given by students, faculty, staff, administrators and the Registrar’s Office when making these decisions, Gallagher said. All of this is done while taking into consideration a state law that dictates the amount of class days that must be held each semester. By negotiating holidays and the amount of breaks given in a semester, CSU is able to fulfill the requirements of that state law. 

“Just this fall, the Council approved the calendar that runs from fall 2024 through the summer term of 2026,” Gallagher said. “The calendar for CSU is completely nailed down through the summer of 2026.”

Gallagher said the Council evaluates the academic calendar every two years, creating the schedule for the next two academic years. That decision is passed on to CSU’s president who then passes it on to the Board of Governors.

“The Board of Governors is the ultimate authority of all these things,” Gallagher said.

While the governor of Colorado may choose who is on the Board of Governors in order to make these decisions for the University, Gallagher said Gov. Jared Polis himself does not make decisions for the academic calendar. However, Polis does have a say in the holiday schedule for faculty and staff, which is its own separate calendar from the academic calendar and does not affect students.

“Now, there are University holidays, and there are days that classes don’t meet,” Gallagher said. “Those are not the same thing. Just in the last month, (Gov.) Polis said there are going to be certain holidays for the staff on campus to which the president agreed, giving staff time off for those days.”


I think it’s a good mental break to just pause for a bit to help increase people’s motivation and energy for the rest of the semester.” -Michelle Ancell, CSU journalism instructor

It’s not just students who have opinions on the holiday and break schedule of the University.

Michelle Ancell is a journalism instructor at CSU who is in the process of writing a letter to President Joyce McConnell on why waiting to have a break in the fall semester until Thanksgiving is problematic and unhealthy for students. 

“To me, it seems like students are getting so burnt out by having to go from Labor Day to Thanksgiving without any additional days off,” Ancell said. “Maybe we could offer a day or two off somewhere in the middle just to give students and faculty more of a break and to catch their breath.”

Ancell said the reason she is writing the letter is because she feels CSU is open to ideas. From personally knowing students who attend other universities, she has gained perspective on how CSU could be doing better in caring for its students by providing them with a semester schedule that allows for a short break in the middle of the term.

“I think we all need time to regroup and have a little time to relax while still knowing you can get your required work done,” Ancell said. “I think it’s a good mental break to just pause for a bit to help increase people’s motivation and energy for the rest of the semester.”

It might be a good idea to take a day or two away from the winter or summer breaks, as they are both long, allowing for a bit of balance while still affording students a break at a time when they need it most, Ancell said.

“I’m sure it’s a bit more complicated than we realize and that a lot of thought and collaboration goes into creating the current calendar,” Ancell said. “It just seems like in the two weeks preceding Thanksgiving break, students are really worn out mentally and physically.”

With this, Ancell said students and faculty must be grateful to have the entire week of Thanksgiving off, as many universities do not provide that luxury. This is especially important for out-of-state students, as Thanksgiving break affords them the opportunity to go home for the holiday without having to skip any classes. 

“I have noticed people coming in feeling like they’re having a crisis, crying or feeling completely overwhelmed,” Ancell said. “It seems that having even a day to have a mental break will help them garner up the emotional energy to deal with the remainder of the semester.”

Dorina Vida can be reached at or on Twitter @simply_she_.

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