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The Antelope

The Antelope

UNK officials should rethink the J-term, lengthen spring break

After winter break, students were welcomed back to campus by several inches of snow. The weather caused the university to cancel the first two days of classes.

This January, 456 students enrolled in 26 sections during the 3-week intersession, according to the UNK Registrar. 

The students were enrolled in a total of 1,172 credit hours, according to the UNK Registrar. 

There are 6,725 UNK students. That means this year, UNK scheduled a three-week intersession in January for 7.27% of the total student population.

This percentage does not justify the need for a three-week January intersession, commonly known as the J-term.

According to Charlie Bicak, the vice chancellor of student affairs, a decision has not been made yet on whether the J-term will continue, but we think UNK officials should consider reverting the schedule back to normal in spring 2023. 

When we say “back to normal,” we are referring to the spring schedule before the pandemic, when UNK students returned to school after Christmas break near the beginning of January.

The pandemic threw a wrench into the traditional spring schedule in March 2020, when classes went completely online because of COVID-19. 

During the following spring, the 2021 intersession was meant to help manage the number of COVID-19 cases coming back to campus after gathering for the holidays. 

The hope was that the UNK community would quarantine and self-monitor before classes started, but who knows how many Lopers were health-conscious during their winter vacation.

During the 2021 J-term, 582 students enrolled in three-week classes, but this amount is only slightly larger than the 456 students in 2022. We predict this number will decrease in the years to come, and we wonder how well information can possibly be retained from courses that are packed into three weeks.

For the 92.73% of UNK who are not enrolled in J-term classes, the winter break serves as an extended time to relax or work. But it is difficult to find jobs that will hire for only a month in the various hometowns of Lopers. 

If students lived on campus during the intersession, two meal-plan options are offered from Jan. 3-22. But students were charged a weekly rate, and meals were not carried over to the next week.

Many of us would rather trade the long winter break for a normal schedule and a full week of spring break.

Burnout was common in the spring of 2021 after a period of virtual classes during the worldwide pandemic. We are grateful for a spring break (sort of) this year, but it’s odd that the weekend is being looped in with our time off. 

Next week, we get Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off, but some professors have canceled classes on Thursday and Friday. Many students are even skipping classes next week anyway to further extend their spring break. Those who live out of state will most likely stay home, instead of returning for two days of classes.

Even though we would prefer a full week off, we suggest students make the most of this brief spring break to prevent burnout as the semester moves forward.

The spring schedule change was a good experiment that kept the health and education of students in mind. But now the pandemic is fading. It’s time for the January intersession to fade along with it. 

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