College ends annual winter break shutdown

This December, the College wil end the annual winter shutdown to heat all office buildings for professors and to offer housing over the break for international students. Most other buildings on campus, including the indoor athletics facilities and Sawyer Library, will remain closed.  The College has also updated its winter break schedule, with an added official staff holiday from Dec. 27 to Dec. 30. That period will come in addition to the staff holidays on Dec. 23, Dec. 25 and Jan. 2. President Falk announced the campus plans for winter break in an all-campus e-mail sent on Oct. 12. For the past three years, the College has undergone a shutdown of all campus facilities over winter break.

According to Diana Prideaux-Brune, associate vice president for Facilities, all 20 of the buildings with faculty offices will remain heated and have the same accessibility as during the regular semester. Though the buildings will have regular access, Prideaux-Brune said that Facilities is discouraging heavy usage of these buildings during winter break because regular custodial services will not be available.

Prideaux-Brune explained that opening the buildings is not a matter of spending more money but foregoing energy conservation. “There is no actual cost for opening these buildings,” Prideaux-Brune said. “We will simply not see the same energy savings that we might have with them closed.”

Last year, the College saved 5332 million Britis Thermal Units (MMBTU), larger than the savings of 4675 MMBTU in 2010. In 2009, the first year that the college inititate the winter shut down, the College saved 3833 MMBUT.Additionally, the College saved $107,312 due to the winter shut down last year. In 2010 the savings were $79,662, while 2009 saw a smaller savings of $99,414. The College will evaulate the impact of the new opening procedure following winter break.

Closures of most other facilities are intended to keep staff commitments low over the holidays and to reduce utility costs and emissions as much as possible.

International students can apply for on-campus housing over winter break for the first time this year (“Faye to house internationals next winter break,” April 27, 2010).Fayerweather Hall, which will house the students, will likely have custodial services at least once a week over the break. International students can apply for student housing via the Office of Student Life website; the College will provide housing for a maximum of 71 students. Twenty-six students have applied as of Monday.

Should more than 71 students apply, the Office of Student Life will determine approval “based on financial need, the availability of family or relatives in the U.S., distance of home country and visa status,” according to the application website. According to Doug Schiazza, director of Student Life, approved students who already live in Fayerweather will be able to stay in their own rooms, students who know peers living in Fayerweather may coordinate to stay in specific rooms and Student Life will assign rooms and roommates as needed.

Vice President of Campus Life Steve Klass and Dean Bolton also added that the College will provide shuttle service to Stop & Shop over the break so that students can purchase groceries and supplies.

“This is a pilot year for this program, and we look forward to seeing how much demand there is for this option and how it might be further improved in the future,” Bolton said.

Falk’s email addressed the reasoning for the new staff holiday. “Adding these days off for staff will keep us roughly in line with our peers, and they come at a time when it can be hard to get some kinds of work done because many staff colleagues have taken vacation,” Falk said in his email.

Some of the staff members who will have to reschedule their staff break time will be steam plant engineers, the on-call trades workers  and security officers.


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