The University of California system has recently announced that it will be pushing back the move-in day for 2014 students to Oct. 2, dwindling our winter break to a measly two weeks in order to accommodate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, two Jewish holidays known as the High Holy Days. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, starts the night of Sept. 24 and last for two days. Yom Kippur, which only lasts one day, starts the evening of Oct. 3. On these days, the Jewish people are supposed to avoid doing any “work.” This would include moving items into a dorm or writing papers for class. Depending on the lunar-based Jewish calendar, this holiday can shift year to year. Next year, it happens to land at the end of September.
The Jewish community only makes up about 3 percent of the entire UC student body, although not all identify as practicing. This “kind gesture” of religious tolerance affects more than 234,000 students in the UC community. But what about all the other religious holidays? Eid al Adha, a Muslim holiday, falls on the beginning of fall quarter with no day off. Last year the Persian New Year was during the winter quarter finals week, and I’m sure the Persians of the UC system would have much rather been enjoying that time with their family than reading notes in the library. Not to mention, Easter Sunday last year was the last day of Spring Break, forcing Christians and Catholics to move back in rather than enjoy a relaxing Sunday with their family. If our school were to cancel class and move vacations around for every religious holiday, it would be impossible to create a balanced calendar. However, the UC system is not affiliated with any religion and therefore should not be expected to make exceptions for them, especially when the changes affect the student body so much.
Not only is this accommodation unfair to those of other religions, it is unfair to international and out of state students who have a long flight and can only go home once between fall and spring. It is unfair to those with divorced parents who will only have two weeks of time to split between two houses. It is unfair for those with traditional family vacations and ski trips planned. And it is unfair to all the students who work hard for three months and want a relaxing, stress-free vacation. Some student athletes are even asked to come back a week early for winter break, leaving them with about a week to be home. This is the longest break of the year that people of all religions are accustomed to having. Our three-week break is already considered short in comparison to those of other schools that have four to six weeks off, if not more. This change is affecting more students negatively than it is positively, and that should be enough reason to keep the calendar the way it is.
Many may not be aware that this policy was implemented back in 2007 due to the conflict of move-in day and the High Holy Days that occurred in 2006. However, many of us are just hearing about it now. This gives the student body a limited amount of time to protest and make a change. The buzz of the change has been traveling through campus quickly this week, creating excited and aggravated emotions among the students. There has been an online petition traveling through social media platforms collecting signatures to maintain the three-week winter break in the UC system. After a little less than 24 hours, the petition gained over 20,000 signatures. We are fighting to have a say in something that we should have been able to decide from the start.