On Friday, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler and Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun sent an email to FAS and Yale College faculty detailing recommendations for teaching for the rest of the semester and for the upcoming term.
Notably, the email pointed to an updated FAQ website that indicated that the preliminary course schedule deadline has been extended from Dec. 18 until Monday, Dec. 21. Gendler and Chun did not provide a reason for the extension in the email, and the News did not receive one in response to requests for comment. Students had previously criticized the original deadline for appearing during finals week.
The email also asked instructors to shorten the application process for limited-enrollment courses, to refrain from scheduling major assignments on break days or the subsequent post-break days and to provide midterm feedback to all students, so they can know their general standing in the class before the final weeks of the semester.
“Thank you for your hard work, your compassion, and your creativity,” Gendler and Chun wrote in the email. “This has been a challenging semester for all, and we are grateful for all that you do for Yale and for our students.”
The timeline for preregistration and course applications remains the same, except for the three-day deadline extension for preliminary course schedules. Noting that the December deadline means students will be applying to limited-enrollment courses during reading week, Gendler and Chun requested that instructors make their applications “as simple as possible.”
For most classes, Gendler and Chun noted that basic information, such as class year and major, are enough to make admission decisions or prioritize students. For classes requiring a statement of interest, they asked to cap the statement at 100 words. Applications are still due on their initial date: Wednesday, Dec. 9, during reading week.
Gendler and Chun also requested that instructors avoid scheduling exams and other large assignments during the five break days scheduled throughout the spring semester, as well as the day after each break day, noting that students should be able to use them as a “true break” from the classroom.
“We realize that this will require changes to certain ordinary practices,” they wrote. “We are grateful for your flexibility in these unprecedented times.”
When asked if faculty will receive penalties if these recommendations are not followed, Gendler told the News that these are “suggestions in support of student learning”. Gendler also pointed the News to a statement on the FAQ page surrounding the break days, which states that while the recommendations may require syllabi adjustment, students will “greatly appreciate” them.
James Mullins Jr. ’23 told the News that he appreciated the requests made by Gendler and Chun, specifically those to make break days “more of an actual break.” However, he noted that the single days off, some in the middle of the week, means that he will likely spend it catching up on work or getting ahead anyways because they aren’t attached to a weekend or a larger amount of time off.
“The whole point of multi-day breaks is that course instructors should plan around them, so that a week-long break is accompanied by a significantly diminished, if not nonexistent, workload,” Mullins wrote in an email to the News.
Mullins also felt as though the three-day preliminary schedule extension had a similarly small impact, writing to the News that students will still need to apply for seminars and do the majority of their planning during finals week.
Terence Renaud, a lecturer in the Humanities Program and the history department, also told the News that the three-day extension did not significantly diminish the early preregistration system’s overlap with reading period.
“Everyone is burned out already, and this new system only adds to the student and faculty workloads during reading week,” Renaud wrote in an email to the News.
He noted that, in general, the idea of a “true break” between the fall and spring terms — the rationale Gendler and Chun provided in their email for the early preregistration deadline — is unhelpful for him, as he spends the weeks before the semester preparing anyways, “regardless of any advance registration.”
Reading week will take place from Dec. 7 to Dec. 10.
Madison Hahamy | firstname.lastname@example.org