EXCLUSIVE: University changes ‘Thanksgiving Closure’ to ‘Fall Break’
University of Alaska Southeast replaced 'Thanksgiving Closure' with 'Fall Break.'
A professor argued last year that 'we are not a white Christian organization, we are a university.'
University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) removed “Thanksgiving Closure” from its calendar in place of “Fall Break” at the alleged urging of a university professor.
X̱’unei Lance Twitchell, Professor of Alaska Native Languages, rose concerns about the school’s reference to “Thanksgiving Closure” to members of the community during an August UAS Convocation meeting.
“I see practices both procedural things and also behavioral things that are going to actually prevent diversity and maintain what we have,” Twitchell said. “And I also think we should do away with thanksgiving closure, I think, like a single white voice kind of derailed that whole conversation strangely last year.”
Keni Campbell, Public Information Officer and Executive Assistant to the Chancellor, confirmed to Campus Reform the change was made this year.
“We believe that University breaks should respect all peoples,” she said. “We used to have Christmas Break and Easter Break but changed those many years ago to Winter break and Spring Break.”
The current calendar marks Nov. 24-26 as “Fall Break.”
Twitchell argued in favor of revoking Thanksgiving from the name during a 2021 November UAS Staff Council Meeting.
According to the meeting notes, Twitchell stated the “Indigenous Studies Program was contacted by administration to think about ideas about decolonizing Thanksgiving.”
“Perhaps we should name our academic breaks after seasons, since holidays have their roots in particular groups. Other groups can feel excluded as a result,” the transcript reads.
“We are not a white Christian organization, we are a university,” Twitchell continued.
The majority of council members present agreed with Twitchell’s arguments, according to the transcripts.
Campus Reform contacted all parties mentioned and this article will update accordingly.
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