Calendar changes go into effect this fall

by Erin Landau | 9/3/12 10:00pm

As the onset of a new academic year nears, members of the Dartmouth community will have to adjust to a newly implemented term calendar designed to improve the continuity of the Fall term academic experience, according to College Registrar Meredith Braz. The change, voted on by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on May 9, has forced a number of College offices and activity organizers to adjust the timing of events.

In addition to providing financial relief to students who have previously traveled home for the Thanksgiving holiday only to return to campus for final examinations, the new calendar will enable students and faculty members to pursue additional research, community service, travel or work experience, Braz said.

Linguistics professor Timothy Pulju said the change is likely to benefit his classes, removing the typically "disjointed" period near the end of Fall term.

"Now we won't have to worry about students leaving town early or coming back late," he said. "Plus almost everyone has trouble remembering what they were doing a week before in class."

Faculty members expect that students will produce higher-quality work during the last weeks of the term as they will be more able to focus on assignments, according to philosophy professor Samuel Levey. In addition, the longer break could facilitate new learning opportunities.

"Faculty are dreaming up short course curricula where they can take students overseas," Levey said. "However, we really can't anticipate what will happen with students who must remain on campus during winter break."

Pulju said that linguistics professors usually conduct field research during the breaks between terms. The new schedule provides more time for research endeavors, making it "a good change."

Dartmouth Outing Club President Gerben Scherpbier '14 said that he is excited about the new schedule and supports the decision to begin classes earlier.

"At this point in the summer, all my friends have already gone back to school, so I'm not missing out by starting earlier," he said.

The new schedule may also prove beneficial for freshman who are still adjusting to living away from home, as they will be able to spend six weeks at home following their first term in College, according to Sarah Koulogeorge '16.

"It's a nice transition for kids who haven't lived away from home before," she said.

Organizations scheduling activities on campus before the start of Fall term, such as the DOC, have altered their programming to accommodate the new calendar. Sophomores, who have traditionally been heavily involved in First-Year trips, have had to limit involvement in order to balance the commitment with final examinations, Scherpbier said.

DOC members plan to run a series of longer trips during the extended winter break, including a potential trip to South America and a week-long backcountry skiing expedition in Colorado, according to Scherpbier, who said he intends to use the long interim period for outdoor excursions.

"I'm going to hike for 12 days with a friend, get my wilderness trip certification, ski with family and still have time to go on the Cabin and Trail trip out West," Scherpbier said. "It's crazy that I can spend that much time outside in one break, but I'm really excited about it."

While many students applied for interim housing, allowing them to return to campus before Fall term begins, the Office of Residential Life was unable to grant all requests as a result of the schedule changes, according to Director of Undergraduate Housing Rachael Class-Giguere.

"We have to be more restrictive in granting interim housing so we can give Operations as much time as possible to prepare rooms for the fall residents," Class-Giguere said. "This has meant that reasons that were approved in the past now can't be approved as we have to give priority to those preseason athletes who are in season and students who are here to make Orientation happen."

ORL has been working with students and their individual situations, trying to make adjustments to normal interim policies in order to accommodate students, she said.

"I think it will take more than this one interim to know the full impact of the change on the end of Summer and start of Fall term," she said.

Class-Giguere said the custodial staff must work overtime to prepare rooms for their Fall term occupants.

Although the period between Summer and Fall terms is shorter on the new schedule, the staff expects to be able to perform the work needed before residents move in, according to Director of Residential Operations Woody Eckels.

Custodial staff will take advantage of the longer winter interim to wash common areas and interior windows, refinish hardwood floors and shampoo carpeting in common areas and vacant rooms, Eckels said.

"We will relish the added time to perform some of the tasks that might have had to wait until the next summer to accomplish," he said.

Prior to voting on the proposed schedule changes, administrators spent two years working with groups of faculty and staff, including ORL and custodial staff representatives, to discuss the potential effects of a new term calendar, according to Braz.

The calendar was adjusted so that important academic dates, such as deadlines for adding and dropping courses and final exam schedules, corresponded with new and existing faculty guidelines, Braz said. The process also included consultation with Student Financial Services, the Office of the Dean of the College, Financial Aid and Computing services to ensure that processes were coordinated effectively.

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Thayer School of Engineering will also utilize the new academic calendar, while Tuck School of Business and the Geisel School of Medicine will continue to use their respective schedules.

Advertise your student group in The Dartmouth for free!