LU makes new winter break policy

Nicole Capozziello

Since the board of trustees’ decision to change the university calendar, a decision they made over their January meeting, members of the Lawrence community have reacted in an array of ways. Regardless of whether this decision was met with joy or frustration, the university has moved to focusing on how it can be made a reality – and how it can reach its full potential for economic and environmental savings.
In response to the trustees’ decision, President Beck formed a temporary committee to work out the kinks of one issue in particular: winter break. The committee, selected by Beck, is composed of Steve Armstrong, David Burrows, Pete Gilbert, Eilene Hoft-March, Chris Howard, Sandy Isselman, Dan Meyer, Brian Pertl, Brian Riste, Cynthia Roberts, Dawn Rost, Jeff Stannard, Steve Syverson, Kim Tatro, Nancy Truesdell and Nancy Wall. Due to the group’s quick construction and the immense time commitment involved, the committee was unfortunately unable to include student representatives.
Over winter term, the group deliberated possible issues – ranging from the ability to still offer full-time employment to staff, to housing winter athletes, to deciding on a suitable temperature for buildings – before composing a draft of recommendations. As established in the very beginning of the document, the committee kept three guiding principles in mind throughout their deliberations: “to preserve the academic and artistic core as much as possible; to be as humane as possible in attempting to protect the employment status of members of the Lawrence community; and to recognize that the changing situation externally may affect our internal contingency planning.”
Over the six-week break, some campus buildings will be closed entirely, with the thermostat set to 50 degrees, while many campus buildings will be open only four days a week. The committee has proposed that nearly the entire campus be closed down from Dec. 24 to Jan 1. According to the ad hoc committee’s draft recommendations, the estimated costs-savings for utilities alone will be $121,200, though this is subject to change.
The proposed recommendations, like the calendar change itself, will require compromise and sacrifice at all levels. For most students this will merely involve the acceptance of a big change and the foresight to pack wisely, as the dorms will be closed after Nov. 26. Dean Truesdell herself will also be planning accordingly as Raymond House is among the buildings closed between fall and winter term. For faculty, the changes to building hours mean possibly tweaking their work schedules – and maybe wearing an extra sweater, as the thermostat will be bumped down to 65 degrees. Staff schedules will also be altered, whether this be packing 40 hours of work into four days or doing extra work at home.
April 6, Truesdell sent out the committee’s draft recommendations in an e-mail inviting students to a student open forum on winter break. In both the e-mail and the forum, which took place Tuesday, April 7 in the Wriston auditorium, Truesdell stressed that the purpose of the forums was not to debate whether or not the schedule will change, as that has already been put into effect. Over the past week, Truesdell and Wall conducted open forums for faculty and staff as well as students.
At the open forum for students, Truesdell went over the draft recommendations document, which is broken into three sections, regarding buildings, staff policy and student policy, before opening the floor up for questions and suggestions. Insofar as students are concerned, the committee looked at the three main groups of students that will be most affected by the extended winter break: international students, winter athletes and student teachers.
To accommodate student teachers, of whom there are expected to be about 10, the committee proposes the use of university guest houses. The committee suggests that as many students as possible be housed on the top two floors of Brokaw, as the offices below will still be operating. Although it has yet to be finally determined, the document proposes that other athletes be housed in hotels while international students divide their time between Brokaw and Bj”rkluden for the beginning of break. Further details on proposed accommodations for students can be found in the winter break policy document sent out to campus community members.
At one forum, members of the faculty and staff raised concerns about the closing of the rec. center, which the committee proposed be closed from Dec. 16 to Jan. 1, and open only for use by athletic teams from Nov. 29 to Dec. 15. To remedy these concerns, Lawrence is looking into the costs of extending YMCA passes, which are currently available to students, to faculty and staff. At the student open forum, student athletes expressed their hope that the university provide some sort of dining hall option, though what exactly this will be remains to be seen.
This is just one of the many decisions that will be facing President Beck. In the coming months, she will be looking over the ad hoc committee’s proposed solutions and the amassed feedback before releasing the official decisions regarding winter break later this term.