As most Oles are already regretfully aware, this spring St. Olaf College has scheduled classes for both Good Friday and Easter Monday. Despite a widely signed student petition presented to the administration last year, there will be no Easter break. Grumbling heard among students has subsided to a dull roar because at this point, nothing can be done to change the schedule. However, these complaints remain shortsighted. Staying on campus for Easter might not be the devastation many anticipate.
Admittedly, we all just want a break. Some might be eager to return to home churches, family gatherings or mom’s cooking, but we are united in a desire – if even for just one Monday – to sleep in, catch up and not wake up for 8 a.m. class. Yes, even at St. Olaf, where we really do like class, like our professors and like to learn, we work-weary students still jump at the thought of a day off, whatever the justification. The general concern is not making it home for Easter – those living close enough to travel home in three days can likely make it back in two if desperate – but rather the ingrained need in all of us for a break.
We do lose a break for reasons, as stated by Mary Cisar in an email sent this fall. Those reasons include “the integrity of the academic term and the conviction that celebrating Holy Week and Easter on campus as a community is of value.”
However, St. Olaf students tend to focus so much on the loss that they are blinded to any possible gain. For four years, we live at St. Olaf. We eat, sleep and go to class with the same people every day. On this campus we keep ourselves up late laughing with our roommates, then grumble through breakfast with them early the next morning. Here we experience the best of days and the worst with the same 3,000 of our closest friends.
Easter remains the most important day in the year for many practicing Christians. As our very own Pastor Matt Marohl asks, “how can a college of the church not be together for the most holy time of the year?” If we spend all the rest of our days with these people, how can we be apart during the church’s biggest celebration?
And as much as I would love for him to be wrong – thus reinstating our well-loved Easter Break – he is right. Last Easter, as we all finished up our spring breaks, we celebrated Easter all over the country, Pastor Matt missed all of us, and he can’t be the only self-proclaimed “hopeless romantic” on the Hill who thinks that while we love our families too, we actually “want to sit next to [our] roommate or best friend and hear the proclamation of Easter.”
St. Olaf is not abandoning its responsibilities as a college of the church by denying us an Easter break. Instead of heading our separate ways for the holiday, we now have the unique opportunity to stay together as a community. In addition to daily chapel, which will continue as usual through Holy Week, evening services will be held in Boe Chapel at 9 p.m. on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, 7:30 p.m. for Saturday’s Easter Vigil and 10:30 a.m. on Easter Sunday. All are welcome to join in this campus-wide worship. As a campus community, we can celebrate together.
So, as we complain our way through classes on Monday, April 21, maybe it won’t be quite as painful knowing that the same people will help us through this day celebrated the risen Christ with us the day before. And while that might be cheesier than even Pastor Matt would appreciate, know that no administration will ever love the Olaf community so much that they will keep us here for Christmas. Don’t worry, our other breaks won’t be threatened by the loss of Easter break.
Sonja Nelson ’16 firstname.lastname@example.org is from Minnetonka, Minn. She majors in studio art and English with a concentration in management studies.
Graphic Credit: EMMA JOHNSON/MANITOU MESSENGER