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Mid-semester break may be lost as TBR common calendar comes up for review

By Brittany Ritzman
On December 1, 2011

Tennessee Board of Regents institutions may soon see changes in their academic calendars, including a potential shift in fall break schedules.

Dec. 12, the members of the TBR Common Calendar Re-Evaluation Committee will meet to report their findings.

Among the problems the committee plans to address is the Tech calendar system, which is unique in comparison to all other institutions in the TBR system.

In the past, Tech has utilized a system that required students to attend Monday classes on the first Thursday of the spring semester. This was to make up for the Monday missed for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The argument in favor of this system is that it balances out the number of class meetings each semester per day of the week. For example, under this system, classes would meet 14 times a semester for each day of the week.

"Tech has been doing that for a long time, but it creates problems because we have so many students who attend more than one institution," Gretta Stanger, member of the Common Calendar Re-evaluation Committee, said. "Does someone taking classes at Vol. State and at Tech attend Thursday or Monday classes on those days?"

In fall 2010, Tech implemented a calendar with the same semester start dates, but did not utilize the practice of attending Monday classes on the first Thursday. This change offset the number of class meetings, which allowed 13 Monday classes and 15 Wednesday classes. Classes all other days of the week would still meet 14 times.

One proposal that the committee is considering is to move fall break, which currently breaks the semester in two halves, to the week of Thanksgiving. This would create a week-long break for the Thanksgiving holiday.

However, not everyone likes this idea.

"I think that a week, especially that close to finals week would be too much," Graham Tate, senior political science major, said. "It would make it hard to come back to study for finals."

By combining fall break with the Thanksgiving break, there would be no time off for students, faculty and staff between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

"Without having a fall break, students will go a long time with no break at all, which will make them burned out," Brian O'Connor, professor of mathematics, said. "Taking a whole week off right before finals gives students the opportunity to forget a lot of what they have learned."

After the committee meets Dec. 12, its report will be passed on to TBR's policy-making sub-councils. They will review the report and make necessary changes before sending it to the President's Council, where it will receive final approval.

Stanger said that while the committee's decision is not the final decision, she thinks that the revised calendar policy will not allow for options for the individual institutions. This means that schools within the TBR system would all have identical calendars. 

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