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The sounds of my younger cousins screaming and jumping on top of me, begging me to play with them. The smell of the apple pies baking in the oven as my dad, sister, and I prepare the sweet potato ones. The joy I feel after crushing my brother at FIFA. These are the typical sights and sounds throughout my house during Thanksgiving since as long as I can remember. But this year, things will be different.

With all of the work that will be hanging over my head this break, I worry that I will not be able to cherish these simple moments with family that have characterized my Thanksgivings over the years. Even for those who are not going home for Thanksgiving, the fact remains that breaks should be a time to de-stress, relax, gain perspective, and enjoy the simple things in life. Thus, the University should not give homework over Thanksgiving break.

Given the amount of work crammed into the semester, banning homework over Thanksgiving may seem like an almost impossible change to implement, yet it must be considered. Students should look forward to at least one period in the year when they can truly relax. And given that the essence of the Thanksgiving holiday is spending time with family, it seems apt that Thanksgiving break should be that time.

I already feel that I cannot value family time because of the work I have to complete. Over First-Year Families Weekend, I could barely spend time with my parents due to work. I spent the majority of fall break on my couch trying to do the work for all of my classes, with my parents constantly begging me to just relax. When I returned to the University after break, I did not feel refreshed or rejuvenated — I just felt the walls of stress closing in.

I had the exact opposite experience in high school, where my teachers were not allowed to assign homework over break. Break was therefore strictly a time to recharge, and I returned to classes with newfound energy and commitment.

I understand that the University is supposed to be a lot of work and that we should expect, and even cherish, the academic challenge. Indeed, this is one of the main goals of a University education. Academic growth, however, cannot be achieved by completing unending piles of work; the constant stress resulting from this will only wear us down to the point where we can no longer do our best work. If we are to function at our best level, we must take a break.

We are already under enough stress at school; why should that stress follow us home? If the University is truly committed to the well-being of its students, it should give us a real break; one without homework.

Shannon Chaffers is a first-year from Wellesley, Mass. She can be reached at sec3@princeton.edu. 

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