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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Student Government rejects extended Thanksgiving break, approves sabbaticals for senators

Allison Campbell
Student Body President Iris Okere speaks in favor of the Thanksgiving Break Act, which would remove fall break and extend Thanksgiving break by two days. The act was denied after more than half of the Student Senate voted in opposition of the act.

Student Government Association members considered three pieces of legislation on April 10: the Ceasefire in Gaza resolution, the Sabbatical Creation Act, and a motion to extend Thanksgiving Break. The Student Senate approved the first two, while the latter was rejected and will not go into effect.

Sabbatical Creation Act

The Sabbatical Creation Act, penned by subcommittee chairperson Adriana Owens, will give all three bodies of student government — the executive, legislative and judicial branches — “access to a break.”

“This is something that not only needs to happen but has to happen,” Owens said. “Accessibility on this campus must be fixed, and if we don’t start with the SGA legislative body of this campus, then where are we starting?”

An amendment to the bill made during the Senate enabled officials on sabbatical to still count toward senatorial quorum so that the Student Government can function even when the required number of senators aren’t present due to sabbatical.

Sen. Adriana Owens speaks on the Sabbatical Creation Act during the Student Senate meeting on Wednesday, April 10. Owens said this act will allow Senate members to get the break they deserve from Student Government Association responsibilities during the school year. (Allison Campbell)

Members of the Student Government will retain their voting rights, even while on sabbatical. If members return to Student Government before the end of their sabbatical period, it will be concluded early.

The act was approved, with all present senators voting in affirmation.

Thanksgiving break

A resolution that would erase fall break and extend Thanksgiving break to a full week was rejected by members of the Student Senate. After the resolution was proposed by Student Body President Iris Okere and Valeria Paunetto, the director of legislative affairs and policy, several senators voiced concerns against eliminating fall break, stating students need that period to “recharge.”

Okere spoke on behalf of the resolution, saying the reallocation of break days at WSU would “go hand-in-hand with our sister institutions, K-State and KU.” The student governments at the two universities have recently made similar adjustments to extend Thanksgiving break to a full week.

Student Government does not have the authority to extend Thanksgiving break, but Okere said she would speak to administration and the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) on behalf of the resolution if the motion were to pass.

When it came time for debate, several senators spoke against the resolution. Committee Chairperson and Sen. Jay Thompson and Fine Arts Sen. Lily Arens pointed out that fall break is “a good mid-semester break” that allows students to rest and visit family. Arens, an out-of-state student, also spoke on the importance of fall break for art students, specifically.

“I think that for fine arts students, we have a lot of work that happens throughout the semester, and so that little break (fall break) is really nice to be able to catch up on projects and also just have a moment to not have to worry about classes,” Arens said.

Thompson also mentioned feedback gathered at WSU during COVID-19, when the university experimented with break periods. This feedback showed that students are more prone to burnout without short, frequent breaks.

Conversely, Business Sen. Sophia Walter said that fall break is too short for out-of-state students to travel home anyway and that an extended Thanksgiving break would enable her, and other students, to visit home for the holiday.

Chairperson Victoria Owens advocated for a survey to be issued to students to gauge interest in a longer Thanksgiving break. Underserved Sen. Emanuyel Brown supported Victoria Owen’s idea but also said he was against the bill because “looking toward that fall break” can incentivize students to keep pushing through the semester.

The motion failed with six votes in affirmation, eight votes in negation and five abstentions.

The next meeting will be live-streamed on SGA’s YouTube on April 17 at 6:30 p.m. 

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About the Contributor
Allison Campbell
Allison Campbell, News Editor
Allison Campbell is one of the news editors for The Sunflower. Campbell is a junior pursuing a journalism and media production degree with a minor in English. Campbell hopes to pursue a career in writing or editing after graduation. They use any pronouns.

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    CHRISTOPHER BROOKSApr 15, 2024 at 8:51 pm

    The WSU Faculty Senate worked on the October/ Fall break for seven years. WSU President Eugene Hughes refused to sign the bill, but seven years later, Donald Beggs signed and it became part of the schedule. After some years as a Monday-Tuesday break, the recess was temporarily moved to Thursday-Friday because some administrators thought that Thursday to Sunday felt more like a recess than Saturday to Tuesday. However, faculty teaching Thursday seminars complained that they now lost two teaching days when Thanksgiving was considered. So the break was reset to Monday-Tuesday and remained there for 20 years as it mirrored the five-day spring break more readily, with each weekday now assigned an off day. The purpose was to give the WSU community a mid-term break to catch up, get some rest, and stay current.