Semesters v. Trimesters

Jonathon Isaacson

Terms versus Semesters Debate Revived at Lawrence
Jonathan IsaacsonThe possibility of Lawrence switching from the current three-terms-a-year calendar to a semester calendar is very real right now, but in absolutely no way any certainty.
According to Brian Rosenberg, the faculty voted last November to consider the possibility. After the faculty vote, the issue was passed onto the curriculum committee for further consideration. The curriculum committee is putting together a task force to study further the advantages and disadvantages of switching to a semester calendar, similar to the type of schedule that many other colleges and universities in the area.
As the message that LUCC President Cole Delaney stated, administration would like to have two students join eight or nine faculty members on the task force to assist in the decision making process. A recommendation is to be made by June of 2004. If the task force finds that it would be more advantageous to switch to a new school year calendar, it would probably not be implemented for at least two years after the decision is made. This means, as Rosenberg said, “There’s a good chance that no one currently here [at Lawrence as students] would see [the change].”
The current discourse on semesters versus terms arose fairly recently. As Lawrence grows, new issues with scheduling are arising, and Rosenberg thinks that the discourse about changing scheduling and changing the yearly calendar have come hand in hand. As classes are being forced to meet outside the normally scheduled times, the debate continues.
The debate is hardly a new one, however. Lawrence adopted the current term system approximately four decades ago, in the 1960s. When asked how long the discourse of dropping the term system has been on going, Rosenberg said “40 years,” only half jokingly. As he said, the faculty members are constantly talking about the merits of one system over the other. In the 1970s, the school had several votes, which retained the term system. However, there have been no votes since the late 1970s.
As to what the outcome might possibly be, Rosenberg said that, being so early in the process, there was really no way to tell what might happen; whether the term system will survive yet another test or if it will be replaced with the semester system.