Although the fall 2014 semester has yet to finish, Yale’s provisional calendar for the 2015–16 school year has drawn heavy criticism from students.
According to the tentative schedule, final examinations during the fall 2015 semester will not end until Dec. 23, with residences closing on Dec. 24. Classes will not start until Sept. 2 — six days later than they did this year. Over the past few days, many students have spoken out in anger and disbelief at the proposed calendar.
“People are livid,” Yale College Council president Michael Herbert ’16 said. “I don’t blame them. We don’t want students going home on Christmas Eve, especially not international students. It’s just not a workable outcome.”
The calendar, which was created by the University Calendar Committee, has been available online for several weeks, Herbert said, but caught students’ eyes Sunday afternoon, when a student posted it to the popular Facebook group “Overheard at Yale.” Since then, the post has accumulated nearly 50 comments, all expressing frustration.
According to Herbert, the YCC has been in contact with administrators and will publish a report on Dec. 1 detailing its suggestions for a revised calendar. He added that the YCC voted on Sunday to move the entire schedule forward one week, so that classes would begin on Aug. 26.
Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said that he recognizes that nobody wants the semester to end so late and is optimistic that the fall term in 2015 will finish earlier than is currently scheduled.
“It’s just a matter of the extent of the change,” he said. “It may be a day, it may be six days.”
Classes have traditionally started the Wednesday before Labor Day, Herbert said. Because Labor Day falls unusually late in 2015, on Sept. 7, the entire calendar was shifted back a week.
Other factors have also limited the Calendar Committee’s ability to end classes earlier, said Kimberly Goff-Crews, University secretary and vice president for student life, who chairs the committee. Fall break, introduced two years ago, puts constraints on the calendar, she said, as does the addition of one day each to reading period and the final examination period. Both of these changes were implemented in response to student feedback, she added.
“These constraints mean that any decisions to move dates involve tradeoffs, but we are still exploring what we can do,” Goff-Crews wrote in an email.
Students interviewed expressed outrage that finals might extend so far into December, voicing concerns ranging from the price of air travel to the disruption of the holiday spirit.
Amen Jalal ’17, an international student from Pakistan, said that ending finals on the Dec. 23, coupled with an 18-hour flight and a 6-hour layover to return home, would be a serious inconvenience. She said that while she does not celebrate Christmas and is not concerned about being home in time for the holiday, the timing will make airfare much more expensive.
“International tickets are already really expensive in the winter because of the Christmas season,” Jalal said. “The cost to fly home on Christmas Eve would be ridiculous.”
Still, others were sympathetic to the University’s reasons for pushing the calendar back.
Mahir Rahman ’17 said that the calendar follows the academic structure of previous calendars. He added that he understands that changing that structure would pose significant difficulties for administrators in trying to preserve Yale traditions like shopping period.
This semester, final exams will end on Dec. 17.