UAS Renames Academic Break Period

Thanksgiving Break has been changed to Fall Break at UAS, thanks to efforts by student, faculty and staff governance groups. 

“With everything we’re learning in the world today, we need to be sensitive to what the people on this land experienced,” UAS Chancellor Karen Carey said in an Oct. 26 interview with the Whalesong. 

For SGUAS-JC President Kali Spencer, the change is part of educating ourselves on the history of the Thanksgiving holiday and what it signifies to the indigenous peoples of North America. 

The UAS Faculty Senate, Staff Alliance, and Juneau Campus Student Government (SGUAS-JC) support the name change, but it currently only affects how UAS references the break. While the University of Alaska common calendar does not yet reflect it, system-wide self-governance groups, like the Faculty Alliance and Coalition of Student Leaders, are drafting proposals in support, said Calvin Zuelow, Coalition Vice Chair. 

Carey said the three university chancellors and the majority of UA students, staff, and faculty also agree with change. She said Fall Break would appear on the UA common calendar following approval by Paul Layer, UA Vice President of Academics, Students, and Research.

It isn’t a radical change, as Winter and Spring breaks used to be called Christmas and Easter break respectively. 

“Calling it Fall Break doesn’t take anything away from people who celebrate Thanksgiving,” Carey said. 

It does help the UA system move forward in recognizing the effects of European colonialism on indigenous populations. 

“We need to get our history right,” Carey said. 

By Mike Flunker, Editor-in-Chief, UAS Whalesong

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