The calendar task force recently announced its decision not to recommend a semester system for Lawrence University. While this decision may not reflect the will of the faculty on this matter, we agree with the determination of the task force, and are of the opinion that Lawrence should retain its current trimester calendar.The task force pinpointed the problems of a semester system at Lawrence. Given the size and character of our university, it would be unmanageable for faculty members – especially those in smaller departments – to offer a satisfactory number of courses under this alternative calendar. Furthermore, since fewer courses would be offered per term, the number of students per course would rise substantially; this problem would be exacerbated by our recent increase in student enrollment, which, even in fully staffed departments under the current system, has significantly increased the workload placed upon particular faculty members.
The semester system therefore seems to be a poor idea for our university. It would perhaps be more feasible if there were a plethora of additional faculty positions available and an influx of willing candidates who would attenuate the problem of unwieldy class sizes; but given the potential problems of retaining our current faculty membership and of attracting the best possible new faculty due to the recent pay freeze, the semester plan seems rather untenable.
At this time, there seems to be little reason to modify our current calendar. We are of the opinion that splitting the winter term would probably do more harm than good: while trudging through the dreary final weeks of second term presents a considerable challenge even to the strong-willed, an abrupt break would likely induce more apathy than energy in the student body.
We ask the student body to provide as much feedback as possible to the faculty on this matter, as the final vote will significantly affect our academic lives.