I generally find visits to SGA meetings refreshing, inspiring and informative, and I admire the spirit of shared governance typically displayed at these events. There is no doubt that the students at VSU have a Student Government Association they can be proud of.
I am not stating this to score cheap political points, but this is my sincere conviction, just as I shared my belief openly in regard to earlier versions of academic calendars which ignored the general desire for the return of a fall break.
This past Monday the Academic Scheduling and Planning Committee (ASPC) again met to discuss the 2015-16 academic calendar and to perhaps find a compromise that works best for the larger VSU family.
Based on comments made by the SGA President at the last faculty senate meeting, the priorities of students were: a) to have more time for finals, b) to keep financial costs as low as possible, c) to allow for a fall break (since Thanksgiving comes very late in the semester) and d) to see if we can maintain a full week of Thanksgiving break due to academic concerns (low attendance on Monday and Tuesday) and the travel needs of quite a few students.
It is also important to note that at the March faculty senate meeting, no Spring Break concerns surfaced, despite the fact that both calendars on the agenda listed the dates March 28-April 1. Now if you look at the student priorities listed above and compare them with the outcomes of the ASPC meeting this past Monday, the first three of the four items have been addressed.
I personally would have liked to also see a full week of Thanksgiving break, but that did not happen, and I will have to live with that. Likewise the College of Fine Arts as well as the Math Department have to live with the fact that there are no more Dead Days, and I know that this was not an easy decision.
So why does the SGA now present a resolution that admonishes the fact that the 2016 Spring Break as proposed by the ASPC is too late? Isn’t that too part of our attempt to find a compromise?
In my research I have found no publication which indicates that the timing of Spring Breaks has any impact on academic performance. In other words, it makes no difference if you have a Spring Break in the second or last week of March.
What is important, though, is an extended time for finals as academic performance improves significantly if you don’t have to take late exams or three exams on the same day as a result of having more time for scheduling finals.
Our choice as an institution is simple if we truly care about our students, faculty and staff. We either accept the compromise offered by the ASPC as it allows EVERYONE to have a Spring Break, as it does not lead to increased costs due to childcare issue for those with school-aged children, and as it does not negatively impact students in the College of Nursing, the Department of Communication Disorders, and the College of Education in general.
Or we essentially tell hundreds of students, faculty and staff that they will not have a Spring Break, that they have to figure out for themselves how to arrange and pay for childcare, and that academics aspects and working as a team at VSU are not as important as possibly hanging out with students from other USG institutions at a beach.
Dr. Michael G. Noll