Nicholls SGA debates the removal of fall breaks


Photo by: Jessica Mouton

Nicholls State University’s Student Government Association (SGA) meeting included presentations by campus officials, the swearing-in of a new officer and a debate over whether or not Nicholls would keep or remove fall breaks. 

University President Jay Clune kicked off the meeting by making the announcement that the completion of the student union is still set to be October 11. 

Clune then introduced House Representative Billy Tauzin. Tauzin explained the importance of young interest in politics, as the way of the world is for future generations to decide.

“We, as a country, are breaking down, and nothing is going to get better without you— the youth of the country,” Tauzin said. 

Tauzin also explained that Nicholls offered him many opportunities to excel in many aspects of his life. 

During his time at Nicholls, 1961-1964, he was elected freshman class president, and by his senior year, he worked his way to student body president. He expressed a great feeling of admiration toward the university and its many student programs. 

“This place means a whole lot to a whole lot of people. People come here because it is a family; it feels like home. Nicholls will always hold a special place in my heart,” Tauzin said.

After his education was complete, he went on to become the president and CEO of PhRMA, a pharmaceutical company lobby group. He also went on to be a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1980 to 2005, representing Louisiana’s third congressional district. 

Once Tauzin made his final remarks to the senate, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Sue Westbrook began to express ideas of changing the academic calendar for the upcoming school year and all those following. The change to be made would be the removal of fall breaks. 

Westbrook explained that Nicholls begins a week earlier than its sister schools, which makes it harder for students to transfer here once the semester begins because Nicholls is a whole week ahead of everyone else. 

Her proposal is to start classes at Nicholls a week later, which would line up the start times of Nicholls with its sister schools. Starting classes a week later would give students one more full week of summer, which to her, is a reason to cut fall break out of the academic calendar. 

“I’m not sure that an extra week of summer, two fall breaks, Thanksgiving break, and Christmas break are all necessary,” Westbrook said. 

What would be done, should Nicholls begin class a week later, would be that students would either see one, two-day (Monday/Tuesday) fall break and a three-day (Wednesday/Thursday/Friday) Thanksgiving holiday or no fall break and a full week Thanksgiving break. 

At the beginning of her address, and upon senate request, she agreed that a student-wide survey would be a good way to make the decision. 

“We often think of the students, but we also have to take the faculty, staff and administration of the university into consideration too,” Liberal Arts Senator Ethan Henry said. 

Once Henry made this point, Westbrook said she agreed that a university-wide survey should be conducted. 

Once Westbrook expressed a lean toward ridding the academic calendar of fall break and having a week-long Thanksgiving break, a strong debate broke out between the senate and her. 

“Some students look forward to having a break—even a small one— to break up the long stretch between August and November,” Arati Panti, Senator-at-Large, said. 

Several other senators agreed with this statement, and many of them piggybacked off of her idea. Another idea was to keep the calendar as it is while working to make it easier for transfer students to catch up. 

“Can we leave the academic calendar the way it is now and still allow transfer students to come in later in the semester?” Education Senator Lizzie Bychurch asked. 

When Westbrook really did not have an answer as to why Bychurch’s proposal would or would not work, she began to self-refute. 

“I actually wasn’t planning on doing a student survey. I am going to take all of the information I got from today, along with your feelings regarding the change, and administration will make a decision based off of it,” Westbrook said. 

At the end of the meeting, Freshman Biology Major Alyssa Romero was sworn in as a new Senator-at-Large, where she will be charged with the task of representing the student body on the senate by voicing their opinions and helping construct and pass motions.