The week of Thanksgiving break is a high-traffic holiday. Peaking on Tuesday, with high-traffic intervals on Wednesday, it is difficult for people to get where they want to go without at least a day allocated for travel. UMBC is only closed the day of and after Thanksgiving. This long-standing schedule should change in order to give all students, in and out of state, the travel time necessary to get home or to a holiday destination.
Choosing optimal times to travel is necessary when planning to leave for a holiday weekend. Having Tuesday night and Wednesday dedicated to travel is a must. Studies show that peak hours of traffic occur on Tuesday evening and various instances on Wednesday. However, there are specific junctures on both days where the traffic lulls.
On Tuesday after 8 p.m., traffic is relatively low on the often congested highway I-95. However, traveling on a Tuesday night is impossible if someone has classes the next day. Traffic on Wednesday peaks in the afternoon but is normal before and after. Again, picking an ideal time on Wednesday is impossible with classes at various times of the day.
UMBC’s out-of-state student population is only an estimated five percent. However, that small percentage is still over 500 undergraduates who will have trouble getting home on time, especially if they have evening or night classes.
Marissa Gabel, a statistics and dance double major from New Jersey, stated that since train tickets during the holidays are expensive and limited she has to, “book so far ahead that [she] often ends up having to plan for skipping class or hoping that professors cancel class.”
The vast majority of UMBC students are in-state. However, that does not necessarily mean that each in-state student has an easy commute back home. Maryland, although not a very large state, still has areas that are easily an hour or two from campus. Traffic can also conflict with an in-state student’s holiday if their family is planning to travel.
John Hutchison, a junior mechanical engineer major, lives 45 minutes away from campus. He stated, “I do not end up getting home until the late afternoon/evening which complicates things because it makes my family have to wait before we leave [we always go to see relatives in New Jersey for Thanksgiving]. Since I do not get home until late, usually we end up having to leave early Thursday morning.”
Many professors cancel class on Wednesday. However, planning a schedule based on that assumption is a gamble that does not always pay off. When the professor does not cancel, there are still students who have no choice — like Gabel who buys her ticket home ahead of time — but to skip class.
On canceling classes, Hutchinson said, “some of my professors do cancel class on Wednesday, but some do not … having to stay at school all morning just to go to a 4 p.m. class is extremely annoying.” Gabel also says, “since most professors cancel class anyways, it would be a consistent decision school-wide … plus it’s a nice break for the teachers as well!”
Giving the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off would be very beneficial for in-state and out-of-state students, and for professors and staff alike. Although UMBC is a state school with many commuter students, that does not negate the necessity for an extra day of travel time.