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The Daily Tar Heel

Fall Break Too Short A Vacation

Everyone I talked to who stayed on campus for this year's break enjoyed the freedom offered for the first time.

I myself was no exception. About this time last year, I scrambled to get on the road for a five-hour drive home, spent most of my three days there asleep, then drove five hours back.

But this year my Fall Break was a time of relaxation, as breaks are intended to be, instead of a stressful time of travel and last-minute planning. In fact, and I was as surprised as anyone to realize this, this year's Fall Break was even productive, what with Davis Library right around the corner.

This might even be the first time I've actually been ahead on my schoolwork since I came to Carolina.

And while Davis wasn't exactly crowded to finals-week levels this weekend, I know at least a few others were getting ahead as well.

Or perhaps even better than I did.

Yes, there were a couple of low points in the system.

Those staying on campus were supposed to register with their resident assistants, which not everyone did. Regular maintenance work that has happened during Fall Break in past years was interrupted. Employees at locations like campus libraries and Student Stores did not get a long weekend.

Another use of the closed halls in past years has been to allow RAs to enter rooms and check for infractions such as two-pronged extension cords and torchiere-style halogen lamps. In the future, perhaps policy will allow RAs to make those inspections with students in the room, allowing inspections to go on as scheduled with the halls still open.

These issues, though, are only to be expected in the first year of a change like this one. They indicate the need not to scrap the idea, but to continue improving its execution.

In fact, far from returning to closed residence halls during Fall Break, the concept should be expanded. As solutions are found to the routine maintenance and other questions raised by this weekend's pioneer run, they can be applied to other breaks that, in the past, have involved mandatory exoduses.

Eventually, perhaps, students will be able to stay in their rooms for the entire semester, including all the breaks. Just thinking about how much work I'd get done makes me feel smarter.

While I'm making probably somewhat impractical suggestions, I might as well raise another problem inherent in Fall Break both this year and in the past. How many times today have you heard or participated in the following dialogue:

First Student: How was your break?

Second Student: Good ... too short.

First Student: Yeah. Are you gonna eat all those fries?

I'm guessing most UNC students have experienced some variation on that theme in the time since those who did leave campus started returning. I'd already been through it twice as of 7 p.m. Sunday.

And what that little dialogue teaches us, besides that First Student actually likes Lenoir's french fried potatoes, is that two days off for Fall Break does not seem like a particularly long vacation.

At least this year I didn't lose 10 hours of the break driving on those beautiful and exciting interstate highways.

Now, I'm well aware of the impracticality of suggesting that Fall Break suddenly start being a week long. Among numerous other problems, the academic calendars need to be approved years in advance, so if we ever do get a longer break, it will be long after I've graduated.

But knowing students, they'll still be complaining about the brevity of four-day breaks when I'm looking back with nostalgia at my 60th birthday.

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So, if you're reading this, Chancellor Moeser, feel free to drop by anytime and I'd be glad to help find places to put the extra days needed to lengthen Fall Break a smidge. I have office hours in Linda's from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. every Tuesday.

They make better fries than Lenoir, and they're open later.

Columnist Geoff Wessel can be reached at

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