It may be time to schedule Veterans Day on the USD calendar
In case you didn’t notice, Nov. 11 was Veterans Day. This is a day off at many businesses, schools, and universities, but not at the University of San Diego.
Since 1919, Nov. 11 was a day set aside to thank our nation’s veterans. Although the holiday was not always referred to as Veterans Day, it has not lost its historical significance.
Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day, to celebrate the end of fighting in World War I. Which ended on the 11th day, of xthe 11th hour, of the 11th month. The holiday was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to represent those who served in World War II, Korea, and future veterans.
USD is one of many private universities that does not have Veterans Day off. It is not due to the fact that USD is unpatriotic; it is due to the academic calendar requirements and the balancing act of juggling what days to have off and what days we do not.
Since Veterans Day is not always a designated day of the week like Martin Luther King Jr., which is always on a Monday, there can be difficulty planning the calendar if the holiday falls in the middle of the week.
While public universities have found a way to arrange their academic calendar, USD has a slightly different academic requirement.
According to USD’s Academic Calendar Committee (ACC), classes that are held three days a week have to meet 41-42 days a semester. Classes that are two days a week must meet 28 days a semester.
These requirements are factored into each semester calendar, and the committee determines what holidays will be observed while obtaining maximum class time.
Thomas Herrinton, PhD is the chair of the ACC. He explained the process of planning USD’s academic calendar. He shared that Veterans Day is not considered an academic holiday or a day off for students and staff.
“Part of the reason that we don’t have any in semester holidays, besides Thanksgiving, in the fall, is to keep to that number of instructional minutes,” Herrinton said. “We don’t have Columbus Day or Veterans Day off. We try and avoid any in semester holidays as possible. We also try to do that for labs that run Monday through Thursdays.”
Herrinton also teaches chemistry at USD and expressed his concern with taking a holiday off while conducting labs.
“On Friday, we switch over the lab, and Monday we start over again,” Herrinton said. “So if we have a Wednesday off, it is a total disaster for us. That has always been something that the faculty has not been in favor of because we are trying to give our students the best education possible and that is our primary goal.”
Herrinton did offer some advice to students who feel USD should still recognize Veterans Day.
“Students should start with the Associate Students senate and get the senate to pass something,” Herrinton said. “That way we know it is actually something that students in general are interested in, as supposed to a small group, and bring that forward to the administration.”
Herrinton also commented on the possibility of a Veterans Day off in the future.
“Anything can be done, it’s just a matter of how much disruption it is going to cause, and is it worth it,” Herrinton said.
Many students at USD have expressed their interest in having Veterans Day off.
Sophomore Christian Dorada noted that taking Veteran’s Day off could be an alternative to other vacation days, including Fall Holiday.
“These veterans have served our country honorably, and we should have a full day of recognition for them,” Dorada said. “To have the day off of school, off of classes allows us to honor those who have served our country and honor our freedom. I understand the sacrifice they make and their families. I believe to have Veterans Day off is much more important than a random weekend like a Fall Holiday. Even if Veterans Day falls on a day in the middle of the week, we should still have the day off. It is a very important holiday.”
While, most classes attendance policies include time off for religious holidays, cultural observances, and other historical events, many veterans would want to keep their commitment to attending classes.
Student veteran and sophomore Noel Ramirez agreed that it would be nice to have the day off, but only if everyone on campus had the day off.
“I think it would be nice if Veterans Day was a day that we could take off, but, as a veteran, I don’t feel like I should be treated different than any individual,” Ramirez said. “And if it’s not a day off for everyone, it shouldn’t be a day off for just veterans.”
Having Veterans Day off would allow students and staff to participate in community events. It would also help keep Veterans Day from becoming just another forgotten holiday.
Derek Abbey, USD Veterans Student Services Coordinator, veteran, and USD PhD student, noted the importance of celebrating Veterans Day with those he cared for as opposed to sitting in class.
“When you look at the USD mission and values, there is this huge community piece to it, and you’re in San Diego, one of the most densely parts of our population in the veteran community,” Abbey said. “As far as being a student and veteran, I would rather not be in school because […] it will allow us to recognize this day when it does fall on a Monday through a Friday, and it is very important to me and those that I care for.”
Abbey said that having the day off allows student veterans to participate in Veterans Day parades in San Diego without missing valuable class time.
“Then when you expand it beyond that, when you compare it to the Cal State system, the University of California system, and local community college systems, they are all off,” Abbey said. “The student veterans organizations on those campuses participate in parades, and the University of San Diego is missing from those elements. I would rather that we had the presence in things like that. So not only would the day allow us to personally recognize the day as we deem appropriate, but it allows the university to participate in greater Veterans Day events, and I think that is very important in San Diego.”
Luckily, Veterans Day falls on a weekend for the next two years. Having Veterans Day off will not be an issue again until 2019, which falls on a Monday. However, speaking up now will pave the way for future student veterans, students, and staff to enjoy and participate in festivities that occur on Veterans Day around San Diego.
By Jennifer Givens, Asst. Feature Editor