Open calendar meetings for 2010-11 allow student input

Dylan Reed-Maxfield

In conjunction with LUCC, the faculty committee on the curriculum invited students to a pair of open meetings on the topic of the academic calendar for the 2010-2011 school year. The meetings took place Sunday evening and Monday afternoon in Riverview Lounge, and their purpose was to inform students and to seek their input regarding the possibilities for the calendar.
The meetings were led by junior Ken Weinlander and senior Robert Furlong, the student members of the curriculum committee. They began by passing out copies of the two calendar drafts the committee has produced, along with a memorandum to the student body explaining the committee’s rationale for the proposals.
The two drafts, labeled “A” and “B,” are quite similar. Both calendars place the start date for the year on September 12, one week after Labor Day, and continue through the beginning of June, with a six-week winter break from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.
The differences lie in the placement of end-of-term reading periods and final exams for the fall and spring terms. Draft A places the end of both fall and spring terms two days earlier than does Draft B, meaning that all classes during those two trimesters would have one fewer meeting time.
Both drafts feature Saturday and Sunday exams as well as a spring break that begins on a Monday and includes the following Monday.
Either possibility would mean a slightly longer summer, made possible by three slightly shorter terms. Both calendars would produce summers of 104 or 102 days as opposed to the upcoming 91-day summer of the current year.
The primary concern students expressed at Monday’s meeting was over the consequences of shortening an already short term. “[These proposals create] a nine-week term, but most classes won’t be shortened to a nine-week curriculum,” said one student. Others also expressed the same fear that equal work in a shorter period would cost students valuable non-academic experiences.
In its memo to students, the curriculum committee explained reasons for this change: “.the committee was keenly aware that the change to an early start date had significantly affected the summer experience. This period is a key time for students to pursue internships, working experiences and research projects. For faculty, this time is critical for conducting research, pursuing artistic projects and planning upcoming course work.”
The calendar will likely be finalized at the faculty meeting taking place this week, when the curriculum committee will submit a calendar proposal to be approved by faculty vote. Weinlander said at the Monday meeting with students that, with Friday quickly approaching, the committee was unlikely to propose anything other than one of the already prepared drafts.
He added that the chance of faculty rejecting the curriculum committee’s recommendation was also slim, given this is the last scheduled faculty meeting before next fall, by which time the 2010-2011 calendar should already have been set.