winterbreakThe response is universal: everybody hates the shortened winter break. Students hate it. TAs hate it. Professors hate it. Parents hate it. Friends back home hate it. And even our loyal dogs, who do nothing but love, hate it. Maybe there are some traitors to the cause, but the vast majority of people and canines that I’ve interacted with have expressed their extreme disdain for this new, lackluster, two-week break.

Most people know that this new schedule is the result of a UC decision to add an additional week to our notoriously long and ridiculous summer so that the Jewish population can celebrate the high holidays (Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah) at home with their families. I agree wholeheartedly and 100 percent that the Jewish population should be able to celebrate these holy days at home with their families and have no argument or objection to that. But why did that extra week come from our short, cherished winter break instead of from the beginning of summer? There is no apparent reason as to why that invaluable week of winter break had to be lobbed into the amorphous blob that is summer when it could just as easily have been taken from the beginning of last summer! Ridiculous!

Not only is it unnecessary to shorten our winter breaks, but it’s just plain cruel. I can’t speak for everybody, but I’m sure most can relate to the structure my winter break took: Get home, sleep, familial obligations, dentist, doctor, haircut, holiday, friends, more familial obligations, New Year, pack up, back to school. Where’s the time for anything exciting? Sure, I could have gone to Mammoth for three days and spent two of those days on the road, only to come back and immediately have to drive up to SB. But that’s not how it used to be and it’s not how it should be.

Students, staff and faculty at UCSB work really hard. Really hard. And we all have one thing in common: we’re all human. We all need a break every now and again — a real break. Not the Ready?! Set! BREAK! kind that this winter was. We should be able to have a week to rest up and take care of appointments, a week to celebrate either a holiday or our freedom with our families or friends and a week to have some fun and rejuvenate ourselves for the upcoming quarter. Trying to jam all of that into two weeks just does not work.

I recognize that next year this will not be the case and we will have our three-week winter vacation back, but there are so many things wrong with how this whole situation was handled. First, the fact that there was no attempt to hear student opinion on this issue before making the decision to cut our winter break was sobering. It’s just a reminder of the enormous divide between the UC Regents and their constituents — they make decisions in “our best interest” and, well that’s really it. It doesn’t matter how we feel about their decisions, because we hardly have any say over how they shape our university policy or over who even becomes a Regent!

Anyway, before I find myself full-on ranting on the Regents, I’ll move on to reason number two: it’s not “just one break,” it’s one of only four winter breaks that we get during our time here. That’s a significant amount and not something that should be glossed over. We’ve all lost out on an opportunity to connect with friends or family, go on an extra trip or even just rest up a little bit more, because the UC saw their schedule was in trouble because of the timing of the high holidays. So they covered themselves up in the quickest way possible, rather than addressing the issue ahead of time and recognizing that preparations should be made the year before by shifting summer a week back. The UC making rushed decisions to address problems as they arise rather than planning ahead to actually fix the problem in a decent way … hmm, sounds familiar.

Not that I can sit on my high horse and preach that everyone should always plan ahead and be ready for everything, but when you’re in charge of a multi-billion dollar institution with an enormous amount of people (with little to no say on anything you do) counting on you to do just that … C’mon, at least give it some thought.

The Opinion Editors are tired and grumpy because they want more break.