At a faculty meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 6, the faculty voted against recommending a proposal to extend Thanksgiving break to a full week.
The motion, proposed by Dr. Dan MacDougall, would have Thanksgiving break begin the Monday before Thanksgiving. Classes would commence the next Monday. This would effectively make the break nine days long, including the weekend before and after Thanksgiving, extending it from the current six days.
MacDougall said that he proposed the change in the break because “a number of us have noticed that classes on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving tend to be less populated.” MacDougall said that he has kept records of attendance for freshman classes for twenty-one years, and a quarter to a third of students consistently miss class on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, more than any other class day. "I wondered if there was a way to adjust the calendar to make it a better break for students," Macdougall said.
Rearranging the calendar would probably mean taking one of the reading days and adding it to Thanksgiving break.
Before the meeting, MacDougall said, “It’s not that we’re pushing for the break . . . We’re just considering it to see if it would be helpful for students and faculty. If the faculty is too divided, we won’t try to push something through.”
However, a number of concerns were raised about scheduling, particularly by the Music and Athletic departments.
Dr. Scott Finch, associate professor of music, said that a change would affect the annual Celebrate Christmas concert and music ensembles would have a longer time in between practicing, which would cause a decline in the skill level of the musicians.
“In the Christmas concert, we are going to serve the community in conspicuous ways,” Finch said. “We need enough momentum to get off the ground.” Missing more consecutive classes would adversely affect that momentum.
Finch said that having the Thursday reading day allows them to offer the Christmas concert on two nights. “Students need a reading day to rest before the concert,” Finch said. “We welcome six hundred people to the concert plus another three hundred watching online. It’s important to gather people from outside the college together with students and faculty and staff, and this is the one time a year that we have an excuse—the excuse of celebrating Christ’s birth.”
Losing the reading day would mean that there would be no possibility of expanding the concert to three nights in the future, Finch said.
Tim Sceggel, Director of Athletics, said of the proposal, “What becomes challenging is when we have games and practices while school is closed. We have to supply food out of the team budget. This is time consuming for the coaches. The team budgets are not huge or luxurious, which makes things pretty tight.”
This would affect both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, Sceggel said, as they are the only teams in season over Thanksgiving.
At the faculty meeting, faculty raised other concerns including lost lab days for science classes, reluctance to lose reading days, and the students who would have to stay on campus for a longer break. Faculty were also concerned about students traveling back on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, as a day notoriously bad for traffic.
Three of the schools nearest Covenant, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Bryan College, and Chattanooga State Community College, have Thanksgiving breaks that extend only from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to the Sunday after, with classes resuming on the following Monday