Temple, students deserve off on Election Day without sacrificing Fall break

The Editorial Board encourages the university to consider giving students off on Election Day 2024 without taking away days from Fall break.

Temple students have been able to weigh in on breaks and days off for the Fall 2024 semester since Nov. 28 via their TUPortal. 

The university will consider student feedback on three options after the poll closes Dec. 12. The first option would maintain the current schedule which includes one Wellness Day in the Fall semester. The second would give students a three-day wellness break in October but would require classes to be held on Monday and Tuesday during the week of Fall Break. 

The third option, which student-led groups including Temple Student Government have advocated for, would give students a two-day wellness break and off on Election Day for the first time. However, Fall Break would still be shortened to three weekdays as opposed to the normal five. 

While The Editorial Board commends the university for asking for student feedback on this issue, the poll may deter some students from voting for Election Day off to keep their full Fall Break. Members of the Temple community have long fought for this day off, and students shouldn’t have to sacrifice other standard breaks to exercise their civic duty — or help others exercise their civic duty — in the highly consequential 2024 general election.

The university should consider other options when planning next year’s academic calendar. Here’s what Temple could do instead.

Add days to the academic calendar

Temple adheres to certain mandates when planning the academic year calendar, including the start date and length of the semester. 

Nevertheless, The Editorial Board encourages the university to consider adding a necessary number of days to the Fall 2024 semester to accommodate wellness days and a day off on Election Day. Doing so would allow students to exercise civic engagement, relish in their deserved wellness days and have a full and restful Fall Break. 

Adding one to three days, especially to the end of the semester, may also give professors and students extra days to teach, absorb and study material ahead of finals. 

Instead of using a mail-in or absentee ballot, some students may travel home to vote and work at the polls or engage in community service on Election Day. Students deserve full access to voting for important offices in 2024, like president and congressional seats, while still retaining their Fall Break.

The Editorial Board strongly encourages the university to consider this option.

Dismiss classes early on Election Day

If Temple is apprehensive about giving a full day off on Election Day, the university could follow Drexel’s lead instead. 

For the November 2022 general election — another high-profile contest — Drexel closed its campus at 2 p.m. to allow its university community time to vote, according to a Drexel announcement. Although classes were not canceled, Drexel encouraged professors to be flexible with students who may be working at the polls. 

Even just shortening students’ and professors’ days may give them enough time to make their impact at the ballot box. 

Remind professors of their options

Temple does not currently have a policy prohibiting professors from giving their students off on Election Day or holding their classes virtually. In addition to considering the other options, Temple should make sure professors are aware of their ability to offer remote work or to cancel their classes for the day. 

The Beasley School of Law has previously given their students off to vote, so Temple should remind professors and individual schools of their autonomy to make decisions regarding Election Day.

The Editorial Board urges Temple to give students off on Election Day, at least one Wellness Day and a full Fall break.

The 2024 general election will be extremely significant and rely on the youth vote in determining the next president of the United States in addition to several open congressional seats and local races. Students deserve an uninterrupted Election Day where they can play a key role in our electoral process and exercise their right to vote in person.

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