Calendar Changes Finalized for 2004-05

Thanksgiving Break has been shortened and several long weekends eliminated from the 2004-2005 academic calendar. The changes, which were proposed in order to adress the shortening of the time that school will be in session because of the placement of Labor Day and Yom Kippur, come after the deliberation of the Deans’ Council. The fourth draft of the calendar, published in last Friday’s Gazette, states that classes will begin on September 14, 2004. Classes will be held on Monday and Tuesday during the week of Thanksgiving, shortening the break to six days. The traditional Mid-Winter Holiday, which had been removed in earlier drafts of the schedule, has been restored, though to accommodate it, Parent’s Weekend is now the only three-day weekend in the Fall Term. “We’ve decided to restore the Mid-Winter Holiday and remove the extra three-day weekend in the fall term,” Dean of Studies Vincent Avery said. “The changes are due to the Labor Day this year, and we don’t want to extend the year,” he continued. Associate Dean of Students Priscilla K. Bonney-Smith said the changes were necessary to preserve class days. “I’ve been here 34 years, so, in my long vision here, this is not a huge change,” she said. “The major thing was to find more classroom time. The reason [students] have so much homework is because we don’t have much classroom time in the first place.” “We don’t have control over the moon, in the every sense of the word, because it also depends on when Yom Kippur comes,” she added. “There are things we just don’t have control over and this is a year where things are just unusual, and that’s why the committee decided what it decided,” she continued. However, Ms. Bonney-Smith sees that the changes can have both positive and negative effects. “I understand the plight of folks who live far away, and will be affected by shorter Thanksgiving Breaks,” she said. “What it hurts is primarily the kids that go home really far away. But some parents are going to be pleased because they don’t want to spend money to bring [students] home once and then again just two weeks later.” There were worries that shortening Thanksgiving Break would have a negative impact on international students. However, International Student Coordinator Aya Murata disagreed. Ms. Murata said, “in terms of its effects on international students, about 85 students live outside of the US, and this year less than 10 went home. It is a pretty small number to begin with, and many choose to spend the vacation with relatives, host families, or friends.” “One of the purposes of the host family program is to make sure international students have somewhere to be while school isn’t in session, and they can’t go home,” she said. Students have only enjoyed the benefits of a nine-day Thanksgiving Break for the last few years. Faculty have always had a shorter Thanksgiving Break than students. “One year we had classes on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday [of Thanksgiving week],” Ms. Bonney-Smith recalled. “We only had the day off. To me, this was a better compromise. It’s all about balance.” Flagstaff Cluster Dean Paul Murphy agreed that the changes will not have a large impact on the academic environment at the school. He said, “This is the way it used to be for years and years and years. It’s new to every student here, but to those that have been here its just shifting back. The Monday and Tuesday off is relatively new, and we’ve been lucky by having early Labor Days.” “Hey, it’s a longer summer for everybody,” Mr. Murphy remarked.