University Could Do Better for Long-Distance Students

Carter Smith, Staff Writer

When I first arrived on campus for the start of my freshman year, it became clear that west-coasters like myself are a rarity here at Villanova. When I asked my classmates where they were from, I would most often hear New York, Pennsylvania or New Jersey. I could probably count the amount of people I have met from my home state of Washington on my fingers.

According to the Office of the Provost, 68.1 percent of Villanova’s students come from the Mid-Atlantic states: Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia alone, with 85.4 percent coming from the Eastern states in total.

For these students, driving, taking a train or flying are all viable and timely options to travel to or from home. But for the remaining 14.6 percent of us who come from farther west or across the oceans, we have no choice but to fly, and I feel that Villanova could be doing a better job of accommodating us and our travel needs.

Moving in is more complicated for us long-distance folks. We cannot simply pile our things in a car or two and take a drive down to campus to move in. We have to book flights, rental cars and hotels along with shipping things out here.

This past summer, students were emailed move-in dates at the end of July, a little less than a month out. Sophomores, juniors and seniors, who have been around the block a few times, know what move-in entails, but freshmen should be given more time to figure out what they need and to get it out here. 

Early notice is even more important for booking. Flights, cars and hotel rooms’ prices rise and availabilities fall as we get closer to move-in, so any advanced warning would help long-distance wildcats secure these things at a time of high demand, as other schools in the Philly area are beginning to move-in around the same time, wanting to book the same things we are. 

I also have some beef with the way Thanksgiving break is structured. I find it quite strange that we do not have the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week off like my friends at other colleges and universities do. Sure, we do have a week-long, fall break in mid-October that very few other schools have, but that is not a justifiable reason for the shortened Thanksgiving break.

Each class, with the odd exception, meets only once in those pre-break days, and I do not think that having one less class period would severely impact a professor’s ability to cover a class’s given material by semester’s end. 

For the week-long breaks, most people I know fly home on Friday or Saturday and come back that next Saturday or Sunday, giving us just over a week of break. For Thanksgiving, our old friends are home, and we get to see our family for good food, so we want that full week back to spend with the people we love. Therefore, others and I skip those two days of class and go home that weekend, nearly doubling the length of the break. That is in addition to not wanting to deal with the crowded airports once the Thanksgiving travel rush starts up on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Since many professors are aware of this, classes are often canceled.

So my question is: why do we keep these two days around? Academic focus and class turnout are low, and a healthy portion of classes do not take place. There is no reason in my mind that justifies the existence of those two days of class.

According to Krissy Woods, Villanova’s Director of Public Relations, both “the Fall and Spring Academic Calendars have a similar number of holidays/breaks” and “if additional days off, the University would either have to start the semester earlier or end later.” Starting earlier “interferes with the end of summer programming, the preparing of facilities for the start of the Fall, and new student orientation and new faculty orientation,” and ending later would “in some years move the end of final exam week to Christmas Eve.” 

So the issue of giving a couple more days of Thanksgiving break is more complex than it might seem, so we frequent flyers might have to live with a couple of absences on our records if we want that full week. There is certainly demand for the University to find a workable solution, and not just from the westerners. I think we would all like a few more days to spend with our old friends and family that we only see a few times a year.

At times, it can be inconvenient to be a student here at Villanova if one is not from the area, and I think I speak for most of us who come from the other three corners of the country in saying that we would appreciate a little more attention in terms of facilitating easier travel conditions.