This past weekend, for the first time in over 40 years, the Northwestern community had the Labor Day holiday off. This change came about after consideration from the Administrative Council. In the past several years, students, faculty and staff have expressed the desire to have the holiday off, and the Administration Council decided it was time to take a close look at that idea.
“The Administrative Council took up the conversation about whether it was time to change our calendar,” said Julie Elliott, Vice President for Student Life. “We decided that it was best to give that day to the community.”
While many can attest to the fact that NW hasn’t had Labor Day off in a very long time, an exact number of years can’t be recalled.
“In the 40 years I’ve been here as a student and employee, I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’ve had Labor Day off,” said Mark Bloemendaal, Dean of Enrollment and Marketing.
Elliott agrees. “I don’t know when students at Northwestern last had Labor Day off, but it’s been a long time. When I was a student in the mid-1990s, we had classes on Labor Day.”
Speculation has risen over the years as to why NW hasn’t previously taken Labor Day off.
“There are various stories for why we’ve always had classes on Labor Day,” said Elliott. “The most common story I’ve heard is that Labor Day happens about the time that students start feeling homesick, and the long weekend encourages them to go home and not return to campus.”
However, this idea cannot be confirmed as the reason for NW’s historic lack of a Labor Day off.
“The theory about homesickness has been perpetuated by some,” said Bloemendaal, “but I’ve never heard it as a real reason.”
A more likely reason than the prevention of homesickness has to do with the holiday’s timing.
“The [previous] logic has been that it was ‘too early’ in the semester to have a day off just as classes were getting into a rhythm,” said Bloemendaal. “There was also the fact that we had to get in a certain number of days each semester.”
In past years, Labor Day has landed on the first Monday after classes have started, only a week after students arrived.
This year, however, Labor Day was the second Monday, and it seemed that plenty of students and staff enjoyed the extra day off.
Many students spent the weekend at home with family and friends, some went to the lake to relax, others stayed on campus, and several made the trip to LifeLight in Sioux Falls.
Though students, faculty, and staff all found different ways to enjoy their Labor Day weekend, one consistency stayed the same across the board: the day off was very much appreciated.