Friday scheduling switch to hit first semester

Next year, the spring semester will not be the only term when Friday seminars officially meet for the first time during the second week of shopping period.

Under the revised academic calendar that takes effect next year, the Labor Day holiday each fall will require that Monday classes meet on the first Friday of shopping period, mirroring the policy for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the spring. Students and instructors of Friday seminars interviewed said the policy complicates the process of determining course schedules and rosters since most students must finalize their schedules before Friday seminars meet.

While administrators acknowledged the inconvenience created by the policy, they said only a small number of seminars meet on Fridays.

“We don’t like to do the switching of Monday classes on Friday … but since it is already established in one term, we thought we could extend it to the other term as well,” said John Meeske, associate dean for student organizations and physical resources and chair of the committee that drew up the new calendar.

Yale College Dean Mary Miller said once the policy is adopted every semester, she expects students and faculty members to grow accustomed to it.

Miller said the Dean’s Office considered how many seminars would be affected by the “Friday is Monday” policy before the policy was enacted in 2001, when Martin Luther King, Jr. Day first became a University holiday, and found that there were “very few.” This spring, 15 undergraduate seminars meet on Fridays, according to the Online Course Information system.

Five of seven professors interviewed who teach Friday seminars said they held an information session for students during the first week of shopping period, and some said they make additional efforts to be accessible to interested students. Still, professors of those classes said the policy hinders their ability to introduce their syllabi and finalize course enrollments.

“Managing enrollment with fairness and efficiency was very difficult, if not impossible, and required a very large number of emails, as well as some polls on the classes server,” said Hannah Brueckner, a sociology professor who taught a Friday seminar last spring. “Needless to say, I was not happy. I will definitely avoid scheduling a seminar on Fridays during spring term unless there is a change in the policy.”

But Maxim Thorne, who held an information session last week for his Friday residential college seminar, said he “did not feel particularly affected” by the scheduling switch, though he said he would not know the enrollment in his seminar until after today’s deadline for seniors to hand in schedules.

Seven students interviewed who were considering Friday seminars said they found information sessions during shopping period useful when they occur, but that not being able to attend an official class makes shopping period more stressful. Two said they decided against taking Friday seminars because they could not shop them.

“It’s counterproductive to the whole idea of shopping period,” said Andrew Calder ’13, adding that he enrolled in a graduate-level Friday seminar after only reading the syllabus. “[The policy] encourages students to either game the system by trying to sign up for too many classes just to make it to the Friday, or to sacrifice something when they don’t know what they’re getting.”

Mia Hassoun ’13 said that after growing accustomed to shopping for courses, having to decide whether to take a class that has not met is “really nerve-wracking.”

Friday classes will meet an extra day at the end of the semester, on April 23, to make up for the missed class at the start of shopping week.

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