A week of Thanksgiving break comes as welcome respite in the middle of a very busy and heavy time on campus. For some students, Thanksgiving isn’t a time of family reunion but a time for students to catch much needed rest and reorient themselves for the upcoming final push for work — it’s a short period of celebration with their other friends who remain on campus wedged between a time of incredible stress. In addition to the academic stresses, it’s a time when students not fortunate enough to return home must plan to purchase a week’s meals, manage the loneliness of the empty campus and figure out how to keep entertained during the week.
Such concerns weigh heavily on the minds of many students, as the staggering number of students planning to attend Thanksgiving campus events indicates.
The Student raised the concern a year ago at this time, and the College finally pulled through in a big way this semester to reduce some of the stresses for students staying here over break. One monumental improvement this year is the continued provision of meals at Valentine to all students residing on campus over break, not just those with high financial need. While Valentine meal options will be limited and dining hours reduced over break compared to normal operations, the opening of Valentine comes as a huge relief to those who must budget for their meals over Thanksgiving, or quickly grow weary of microwaveable or instant meal options.
In another novel move, the College is helping to bring students staying campus with faculty, staff and local alumni in a host-family arrangement for a day over Thanksgiving break. The President’s Office organized a Thanksgiving dinner at the Lord Jeffery Inn that will too harness a sense of family with those remaining on campus, something that is particularly important given the many critiques of the campus social culture in recent weeks.
The hosting of the event at the Inn also adds a level of formality to campus events that will be novel and exciting, especially as many students look for some variation in their daily routine.
To further break the monotony, the also College took the initiative to reach out to students and inform students of events on campus and surrounding areas. It is also supporting student activities on campus, AAS vans for students, promising to host student events every day over break. This will similarly improve the quality of student living over break. The school also reached out to students with funding for student-created events, as well as asking student coordinators to organize thanksgiving festivities with the Dean of Students Office — a sign that the College is looking to meet students’ needs and interests over break.
The Student believes that these programs will be met with much student appreciation, both towards the administration, and the students, faculty, staff and alumni that generously offered their time and home to students unable to be with their own families. For those new to Thanksgiving celebrations, such as international students, this new Thanksgiving experience offers an insightful glimpse into American culture and holiday spirit that would otherwise have been forgone without College support.
The Student is pleased that the College updated their plans to make some of these needed changes in recent weeks, and we hope that the success of the many efforts over break will help make the case for a permanent change in the way Amherst does Thanksgiving.