The current academic calendar may be due for a change — at least, according to the Academic Calendar Committee, who have reported receiving hundreds of comments on its website during the fall semester.
The committee will present a new recommended calendar to the Faculty Senate before May of 2017, which will then vote and propose a course of action to the provost, who has the final say in the implementation of changes, according to the website. The new calendar will most likely be implemented in the 2018-19 school year.
Charlie Van Loan, dean of faculty and co-chair of the committee, said that the review is meant to ensure that the new calendar is most conducive to learning at Cornell.
“The goal is to improve the current calendar, so that it maximizes the campus-wide sum of learning and discovery,” he said. “That optimization requires careful thinking about what it takes to bring out the best in every student, employee and faculty member.”
Prof. Rebecca Stoltzfus, nutritional sciences, co-chair of the committee, explained that the committee aims to address two main concerns: the timing of breaks and study days and the start date of the spring semester.
“Are [breaks and study days] optimally positioned from the standpoint of bringing out the best in our students?” she said. “Does it make sense to start [the spring semester] earlier in order to create more summertime employment and academic opportunities for students?”
With hundreds of comments to sift through, Stoltzfus said the response from the Cornell community has been “vigorous.”
“It is a topic that we are all passionate about, so we are not at all surprised by the volume of the response,” he said.
The comments thus far have voiced a wide range of opinions, according to Van Loan.
“The feedback is all over the place as expected,” he said. “For example, there are good reasons for starting the fall semester later and good reasons for ending it earlier. Unfortunately, you cannot do both, and that is where the fun begins.”
Khalafalla Khalafalla ’17 said an ideal schedule would eliminate shorter breaks altogether and end the semester earlier instead.
“I don’t need fall break. I don’t need any of those breaks,” he said. “I would even do six-day work weeks, to be honest, if I could just get out early. I want the semesters to be over quicker. If that means fewer breaks, I’m fine with that.”
On the other hand, Andrea Benson ’20 said lengthening shorter breaks would be beneficial to students, allowing them more time at home.
“It seems like a lot of people skip the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving anyways, so if you just [canceled classes] it’d be a lot easier for people who live far away to get flights for a week [rather than five days],” she said.
Khalafalla was unaware that the review was taking place, and Benson had heard about it from other students. According to Benson, however, there is no pressing need for changes to be made to the academic calendar.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the system now,” she said.