Winter study past its prime

People are tossing the pigskin in the quad, Chapin ‘Beach’ is covered with people, the smell of ground meat is in the air. . . it’s official, spring is in full swing. When I look out the library window and onto our idyllic little town basking in the sunlight I ask myself, “What the hell am I doing studying in the library?” Williamstown is not the most exciting place in the world, but it does have that absolutely gorgeous, postcard-like atmosphere when the sun is out. Once I get to my room, having missed out on another beautiful day, my incessant Instant Messenger profile checking finds messages like ‘only 3 days left’ or ‘HOME!’ from my friends at home. We’re stuck here for another three weeks while their summer has begun? Whose fault is this appalling injustice? Jan Term, Winter Study. . . call it what you want, but it needs to go.

I know what you’re thinking: what am I going to do without the invaluable glass blowing techniques I learned this winter? I think we should all sacrifice these essential skills for the greater good. Jan Term is a shoddy deal; it’s just not a good trade. Why would we want to have four weeks without work in the dead of hellish winter when we could have four weeks without work in the middle of May? This definitely could not hurt the old GPA either. In January, there is nothing to do but work. In May, when we’re all supposed to be getting ready for finals, the weather’s perfect for just about anything. I think this alone should be enough to convince you that Jan Term is a dated institution that needs to get the boot, but there are added benefits beyond those that are immediately obvious.

Let’s assume for a moment that with these extra four weeks, we started second semester a week later and ended the semester three weeks earlier. What does this mean? Williams students could finally experience a true college spring break. Our spring break would be the first and second weeks of March – prime weeks for visiting Cancun, Myrtle Beach, Ocean City and the like. If you tried to go to Cancun the first week of April this year, you would have been greeted by empty clubs, sketchy old men and high schoolers. A month earlier, it would have been one huge never-ending party. Even if that’s not your idea of a good time, just going on trips or hanging out with friends from other schools would be enjoyable. There are huge benefits to having a spring break that overlaps with many others’.

Much less fun than concerns about spring break are the issues of summer employment. Most businesses that hire summer help get all they need when the big wave of college kids comes back around the first week of May. Worse yet, some internships can be difficult to get when you can’t start working until almost June, especially if the competition can begin almost a month earlier. I almost lost my internship last summer when I told the office how late I had to start. I ended up agreeing to drive home the day of my last final and start the next day. Even if the late start is no problem, Williams students are unlikely to be able to relax for a few weeks or go to the beach with their friends before starting to work.

There are undoubtedly some benefits of Jan Term. Our winter sports teams practice incessantly and continue to dominate Division III athletics. Stratton, Okemo, and Mt. Snow are ideal destinations during the week when no one is there. Also, the month gives seniors a chance to work on theses. Not to mention that we can all harass our friends at schools without Jan Term who are doing real work.

Although beneficial, these considerations just cannot compete with four more weeks of summer and spring break insanity. Not to mention that, with Jan Plan, all your buddies can snatch up the good jobs while you’re left busing tables at the local Chinese restaurant. I have no idea who first thought that taking four weeks off of our summer was a good idea, but I think we need to seriously reevaluate that decision. Even if all of your friends go to small liberal arts colleges with Jan Terms too, you can be the hated person who is sitting at home, eating your mom’s food, drinking a beer and watching the NBA playoffs. And that is a great person to be.