After a long, strenuous three months of the fall semester, Thanksgiving break provides a much-needed respite from College Park chaos and allows students to go home, see their families, pet their dogs and shamelessly shovel pounds of turkey and gravy down their throats.
Up until this year though, many students and faculty have had to hastily pack their belongings and travel to their destinations at the last minute, or possibly even miss Thanksgiving with their families altogether because this university usually holds classes the day before Thanksgiving. Thankfully, that will change this fall.
Campus stakeholder offices including the Department of Resident Life, Student Affairs and the Office of the Provost finally decided, following parental and student requests, to add the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to the holiday weekend.
This university now joins the likes of nine other Big Ten schools that begin their Thanksgiving breaks Wednesday or earlier. Of those nine schools, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Iowa, the University of Illinois and Indiana University have off that entire week.
While we Terrapins won’t have a full week off like the aforementioned universities, the change comes as an enormous relief to students and faculty who will now have the opportunity to hit the roads or get their plane tickets significantly earlier, putting much less stress on them to see their families and friends over the break.
Having to wait until Wednesday night to travel home, which was the case for many students who had classes during the day, left the opportunity for traffic nightmares. Even worse for DMV travelers is that Washington, D.C., Thanksgiving traffic is ranked the second worst in the country behind Los Angeles, according to Google traffic data.
The study took traffic data from the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through the Sunday after the holiday and found that the worst of those days to travel is, of course, that Wednesday, only adding to these Washington travel woes.
Forcing the nearly 50,000 students and faculty at this university to funnel onto the roads on this highly-congested Wednesday was a serious injustice and potential safety hazard.
In fact, the Thanksgiving holiday was found to be the deadliest holiday to drive, according to a 2014 Forbes report. The data showed that there were nearly 50,000 car accidents during the holiday in 2012 and 764 involved fatalities, beating Christmas and Labor Day in car fatality rates.
With the volume of people on the road during the Thanksgiving holiday, there will always be obstacles when traveling. But having one extra day to get moving will significantly reduce the stress and safety risks of going home Wednesday night.