Michigan State University is considering implementing a fall break next school year, giving students Election Day off, but some think the schedule change could undercut efforts to encourage student voting on campus.
Classes would be canceled on Monday, Nov. 2, and Tuesday, Nov. 3, which is Election Day.
Associated Students of Michigan State University, the university's student government organization, had advocated for the break to give students time to go back home to cast their votes, President Samuel Stanley said during the MSU Board of Trustees December meeting.
“ASMSU has initiated conversations about how a fall break would be beneficial to students, and I think it sounds like a good idea," Stanley said.
Sarah Reckhow, MSU associate political science professor, is worried a long weekend without classes could jeopardize the university's success with student voter turnout on campus.
“We as a campus in the last two years have been mobilizing around voting on campus; encouraging students to register at their campus address,” Reckhow said. “It’s been effective.”
There was a slight decrease in MSU student vote totals from the presidential election in 2012 to 2016, according to National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement.
Carter Oselett, a student at MSU, likes the idea of having a fall break. Oselett is a field organizer for the group RISE, which advocates for free college and voter registration campaigns. While he’s focused on getting students to vote early and use absentee ballots, he’s also concerned including Election Day in the break.
“I can’t decide if the pros outweigh the cons or the cons outweigh the pros,” Oselett said. “I’m scared that people are going to be out of town, and they’re not going to vote."
Daniel Olsen, Deputy MSU spokesperson, said President Stanley is committed to supporting and improving student health and wellness, and the pilot fall break gives students a chance to “recharge” and participate in the election.
Editor's note: This AP story has been adjusted to include that the the fall break is only a proposal and is not yet in effect, according to MSU spokesman Daniel Olsen.