This week, the faculty senate will be discussing yet another possible schedule change for the university.
In response to the endless debate over the placement of break days between Thanksgiving and fall break, Dr. Aubrey Fowler has proposed to the faculty senate that the academic calendar be adjusted to add three days (two class days) to the beginning of the semester.
This would, in theory, leave space in the semester for fall break, Thanksgiving, a two-day winter break and a full five-day exam schedule. On the surface, it’s the perfect plan to keep the academic year moving smoothly. We thank Dr. Fowler for his desire to respond to students’ desires and provide an amenable academic environment.
However, we cannot help but express our doubts about the functionality of this plan. Adding days to the calendar sounds simple, but it is actually very complex.
Every day that the university functions costs money. Electric and water bills, faculty and employee salaries, food services and many other arbitrary costs are affected by the shift of the academic schedule.
As these costs change, so do student fees and tuition costs. It isn’t necessarily bad, but it is economics.
Economics are a huge part of life as a college student. While we would love to have Thanksgiving, fall break and a full week of exams, how much is that going to cost us?
How do these costs affect students living on campus versus students living off campus? Can everyone afford to work two weeks less of summer, and pay two weeks more in rent and utilities? How much would those two weeks of lost summer break affect summer semester students?
When the SGA circulated a poll last semester to gauge student opinions on scheduling, the poll did not include any supplementary information to the proposed schedules. Students were asked to choose which of five possible fall-semester schedules and three possible spring-semester schedules they preferred, without any mention of possible consequences that might come with each schedule listed.
Even in an education-centered environment such as a university, it is unrealistic to imagine that every student will stop to fully research every passing university-poll question they are asked. If the SGA and faculty senate want informed student opinions, they must first inform the students.
We do not wish to bring negative attention to our faculty senate, or to our student government. Sometimes it can be difficult to look at numbers on a chart and realize that each one of those numbers is a real person, with real needs to meet. It is also monstrously difficult to formulate an action plan designed to meet all of those needs.
If we want our university schedule to be as efficient as possible, we have to exercise careful judgment on all sides. We all have to work together.