Two midterms and no spring break: Chatham’s cross-registered conundrum


Chatham’s Chapel in the sun. Photo Credit: Alice Crow

Abigail Hakas

Chatham University’s 2023 spring break started on Feb. 24 and ended on March 5. That’s a full week before University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Carlow University’s spring breaks. It may be a minor inconvenience to a student with a sister at Pitt or a best friend at Carlow, but having an earlier spring break takes a heavy toll on students who take classes at other universities. 

The Pittsburgh Council of Higher Education program allows students at Chatham to take courses at nine other local colleges and universities. Because Chatham’s spring break does not line up with other nearby universities, students who are taking a class that isn’t offered here at another school were left without a single week off from classes. While other students could start planning how much or how little they’d do over break, cross-registered students were figuring out how to have a break at all. 

Jaime Sprenger ‘25 is taking two classes at Carnegie Mellon and had two midterms and no spring break.  

“I was able to go home the week after our spring break. So, I don’t have class on Tuesdays, so I went home for one day. I went home for about 24 hours. I got to see my mom for like five hours,” they said. “She had work still so I couldn’t do anything, and I still had homework so I had to like do my homework before doing anything else.” 

If a cross-registered student lives on campus, often food proves to be another logistical issue over spring break. Meal swipes are not accepted so students have to use Flex and Cougar dollars or pay with cash or credit during break. Anderson Dining Hall was closed Feb. 25 and 26 and for the majority of the week was only open from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., so cross-registered students like Liam Lyons ‘24 were forced to find food elsewhere.  

“I definitely had to eat out a lot more. For sure … minus lunch, I was basically on my own to try to like figure out where I need to go to get food,” he said. “I wanted to relax at least a little bit and then I have to, like, walk across town and take buses and stuff to go get food.” 

Students who put in the extra time and effort to attend classes at another university are paying the literal price for Chatham’s decisions with the academic calendar. To be stuck on campus while all your friends are going home or on vacation is painful enough without the metaphorical dumpster fire UberEats made of your wallet. 

Lyons is taking a class at Carnegie Mellon and was only able to go back to New Jersey to spend time with his family after his last class of the week. 

“My mom did have to take an entire day off in the middle of her week in order to actually get me. She’s, she’s great. I appreciate her a lot,” he said. “She was willing to actually drive all the way from New Jersey to pick me up because I think the train timing was a little bit weird. So, her driving enabled me to actually have a spring break … but I did feel really bad asking her to do that in the middle of a week.” 

In no reasonable world should someone’s mother have to take a day off of work and drive five hours just so she can see her child during spring break.  

Vice President of Academic Affairs Jenna Templeton said the University is aware of issues surrounding spring break, but it is a complex multi-department process to set the calendar. 

“This is one of the challenges that we just aren’t able to overcome. … We certainly understand that it can impact students in varying ways,” she said. “But we hope that the benefits of the cross-registration outweigh some of those other inconveniences that result from the varying institutional calendars that exist.”

Chatham is still fresh out of the COVID-19 pandemic when it completely reworked the entire academic system to accommodate online learning. If the University has the capability to do that, then the University should be up for the challenge of moving spring break a week later to allow all students the opportunity to rest and see their loved ones.