Students encounter travel difficulties because of classes day before Thanksgiving

Miles Hutson

The University cannot give faculty and staff a holiday the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Adrienne Howarth-Moore, director of UT’s human resource services, told The Daily Texan Tuesday.

The limitation is because of a restriction from the State Legislature that designates 17 days as official holidays for state institutions. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is not designated as an official holiday, although the Friday after is.

“We as an institution can’t go against the law,” Moore said.

She said the University is permitted much more flexibility for students. A document titled “Principles for the Development of the Academic Calendar,” amended by the Faculty Council in 2007, looks to keep a minimum of 70 class days in a semester. Adding days to the Thanksgiving break would mean taking some away from the winter break.

Jordan Clark, business honors junior and Out-of-State Students Association president, said the University’s break schedule means many out-of-state students choose to stick around campus rather than pay exorbitant Thanksgiving travel prices. He said most out-of-state students he knows are OK with this because they acknowledge the implications of attending an institution far from home.

Still, Erik Hermes, an advertising senior from Florida and officer in the Out-of-State Students Association, said he would prefer to be home, but that it just isn’t feasible. Hermes said air tickets and his brother’s tests on Wednesday prevented them from going home this Thanksgiving.

“When [students] are forced to wait till the last minute, air fare prices are higher,” Hermes said.

Jason Zielinski, a spokesperson for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, said Wednesday is always a peak day for the airport.

“We expect to see at least 30,000 people,” Zielinski said. “We’re up 3.5 percent this year.”

Zielinski said traffic at the airport peaks again on the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving as people pour back into Austin.

Because of these factors, Hermes said it was easier for him and his brother to have their mother travel to Austin. He said he wished the University didn’t have Wednesday as a class day because many professors, like his, cancel classes while others don’t. He and his brother have no option to fly back on Wednesday together.

“We wanted to fly back together,” Hermes said. “I want to see more standardization across the board.”