April 22, 2009

Faculty Vote in Favor of Labor Day Class Cancellation

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Beginning in 2010, Cornell students and professors may be able to look forward to a long weekend at the start of the Fall semester. The Faculty Senate voted April 8 to cancel classes on Labor Day, the first Monday in November.
Provost Kent Fuchs must approve the changes before they are incorporated into the calendar.
“I’m pretty sure that he will make an affirmative decision. He was there when the vote was taken and he didn’t say anything negative,” said Prof. Georg Hoffstaetter, physics, chair of the University’s educational policy committee.
“Labor Day is already free for all staff, but not for faculty,” Hoffsteatter said. “Faculty taught, but there was no staff support.”
The Faculty Senate’s decision to take Labor Day off the academic calendar was legitimized by the shortening of Orientation week from six days to five days, adding another day of classes. According to the University, this change in the Orientation schedule was due to an increase in technological resources.
The Faculty Senate has no plans to request additional holidays in the academic calendar.
“We could only think about taking one day off because we only added one day from Orientation week,” he said.
A Faculty Senate resolution to take off the day before Thanksgiving was turned down in favor of the observance of Labor Day.
“The most important issue [with holding classes on Labor Day] was child care. The other issue was that some people had a hard time teaching without staff support on Labor Day.” Childcare for working professors with young children was also a significant issue in years past, according to Hoffstaetter.
In the Ivy League, Harvard, Columbia, Penn and Princeton observe Labor Day as a holiday in the academic calendar. None of these schools has a college devoted entirely to the study of international and labor relations.
“The International Labor Relations faculty has found that Labor Day is historically important, especially in New York State, where it was founded,” Hoffstaetter said.
Labor Day originated in New York City in 1882, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.