The UC Calendar Of Holidays

Many of you who have scrolled through your Facebook or Instagram feed over the past three weeks are probably thinking: it’s hard to not be jealous of all of your friends who are on the semester system and the fact that they are still on winter break until the end of January.

Meanwhile, we are already in week three of winter quarter. Our mere three week break just was not long enough. Well, brace yourselves! Next year, it will be only two.

That’s right. Winter break for the 2014-2015 school year will only be two weeks long. After being shocked by the news, my roommates and I decided to do some research and find out why there has been a dramatic cut from our break.

As it turns out, there is a holiday in the Judaism, for those of you who are not familiar, called Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish New Year. It is one of the religion’s most important holidays, and literally translates to “head of the year.” This holiday is a celebration of what the Jewish religion marks as the creation of the world.

In 2007, University of California (UC) officials established a campus-wide policy that calls for a shift in the academic calendar to avoid conflicts with Jewish holidays that may pressure Jewish students who want to celebrate the holidays with their families.

This year is the first year that the policy has been pushed into action (as it is expected to come in to play only once every several years) because, since the holiday is set on the lunar calendar, the dates are not always the same.

This year though, Rosh Hashanah takes place Sept. 25-26, which is usually the weekend that UC students move into their housing for school.

Since the policy requires that the UC system allow students the freedom to observe this holiday, most UC campuses (excluding those on the semester system) will gain an extra week of summer and begin classes on October 2 and, in turn, lose the first week of winter break.

While efforts by the University of California seem respectable, as they try to make their students feel as welcome and comfortable as possible with where they go to school, the policy in place will disrupt more people than the school calendar year already in place does.

It is admirable that they want to respect those students who wish to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, but there are also many reasons why this accommodation seems unfair.

First of all, on the surface it will affect the countless amounts of students who travel out of state, even out of the country, to their homes to spend the winter break with their families. It is likely to affect even those who do not celebrate the specific religious holidays that fall within those three weeks.

Summer sessions are very popular at UC Irvine; many students stay to get ahead or to catch up, and the winter break is the only solid amount of time that they get with their families at home during the calendar year.

One might think that losing a week will not affect that time spent with their families, but considering those who have to spend a good portion of time traveling, that extra week is gold.

On a deeper level, this administrative change seems to be unjust for the many other religions that are celebrated on this campus, and other UC campuses for that matter.

Adjusting the entire calendar across campuses for one holiday is a tremendous accommodation. The administration cannot officially observe all holidays across the board, so it is rather disconcerting that such accommodations are being to observe one specific holy day.

However, I do not wish to minimize the value of a holiday. With only a basic understanding of the Judaism, I cannot begin to comprehend what celebrations take place during Rosh Hashanah, or what dedication they require; however, I am familiar with other holidays that call for celebration during the school year that do not get the entire school year changed for them.

I’m sure some of you are thinking, what about Christmas, or the calendar new year? Every school we have ever attended in the United States observes those holidays. In reality, there are several other holidays that fall within those weeks of winter break, some of which we are neglecting in order to accommodate to Rosh Hashanah.

By taking away the first week of winter break, UC campuses will still be in session through the first half of Hanukah. There are no days off from classes for students who wish to observe Easter, or any of the Holy Days that precede it in some religions. There are no days off from classes for students who wish to celebrate any of the many days of the Lunar New Year with their families.

Some holidays are more important than others depending on the people celebrating. And I understand that not all of them can be catered to, but having said that, why go through so much trouble to cater to one?

The University of California system praises and prizes diversity, and we have done our part to create diversity across the campuses. It is their job to recognize that diversity and see that these changes, even just for one school year every eight school years, may be beneficial to the few but efface the concerns of many others.

 

Cassandra Vick is a second-year psychology and social behavior major. She can be reached at cvick@uci.edu.