Editorial – Easter Issue 1 2011

Zoah Hedges-Stocks 29 April 2011

The University has made a grave error of judgement recently with regards to a bank holiday. Not today’s Royal Wedding festivities, but a clash of dates that the powers-that-be could have anticipated years ago. Easter fell unusually late this year and while this moveable feast can vary by as much as a month, Cambridge term dates are set at least four years in advance – plenty of time to allow for an extremely early or late Easter.

Whilst Easter has lost much of its clout as a religious festival, and is now more likely to involve chocolate eggs than a trip to church, it remains one of the most important days in the British calendar. Its significance has transcended Christianity and is part of a wider cultural fabric. Easter Sunday and the Bank Holiday are traditionally days to be spent with the family. Faced with the prospect of travelling over the Easter weekend to be in Cambridge in time for the start of Full Term on Tuesday 26th, many students opted to come up last week and make a trip back home for celebrations. This is an inconvenient and costly solution to a problem that could easily have been avoided had the University exhibited some common sense.

Whilst the bank holiday for the royal wedding is an unusual and controversial move, Easter Monday has been a bank holiday since the Bank Holidays Act of 1871 (prior to this, the Bank of England recognised Good Friday as an Easter holiday). Whilst this might be young by Cambridge’s standards, Easter Sunday and Christmas Day are the only days when trading is prohibited, and are thus recognised by law as well as religion and custom.

On a purely practical level, the decision to make the Easter weekend ‘travel days’ is a Catch 22: if staff did not work over Easter, already inconvenienced students were left without access to trunk stores, catering, and maintenance departments; if they did work, they lost the holiday. If only more colleges had had the prudence of Homerton, which allowed its students to arrive back in Cambridge as late as 6pm on the first day of (Full) term, thus sparing everyone an unnecessary level of fuss and bother.

Whilst the University Statutes and Ordinances state that “the Easter Term shall begin on 10 April and shall consist of seventy days ending on 18 June, provided that in any year in which full Easter Term begins on or after 22 April the Easter Term shall begin on 17 April and end on 25 June,” is it really necessary to preserve tradition to the letter at the expense of staff, students and their families?

Zoah Hedges-Stocks