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College changes start date

Kelly Meehan | Wednesday, December 7, 2005

An unusually long winter break will give students a four-week escape from the rigors of college work, but the return to campus may prove extra challenging for Saint Mary’s students.The College’s semester classes typically began on a Tuesday, but this year students will find themselves in the classroom on Monday, Jan. 16.”I think that starting classes on Monday instead of Tuesday next semester will be a difficult adjustment,” junior Leda DePalma said. “Having that Monday off makes the transition between the long Christmas break and settling back into the routine of classes much easier.”The decision to begin classes on Monday instead of Tuesday was made at the April 18 meeting of the academic affairs council. The council passed a resolution that stated classes would begin on the first Monday of the spring 2006 semester, and every semester thereafter. This change was implemented to narrow the time imbalance that previously existed between classes that convened on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and those that met on Tuesday and Thursday, the council said.”[The resolution] really makes sense,” communications studies professor Andrea Rogers said. “If I had one Monday, Wednesday, Friday class and one Tuesday, Thursday class that were identical, it would be difficult to balance the work load and remain fair to the students.”College registrar Lorraine Kitchner said the implementation of a study day prior to finals week, which resulted in the cancellation of a Friday class, was part of the reasoning behind the resolution.”Faculty Assembly sent the recommendation to start classes on Monday to the Academic Affairs Council in an attempt to balance the overall Monday, Wednesday, Friday meeting times with Tuesday, Thursday meeting times – especially in the spring semesters,” she said. “This change will not make the meeting times equal, but it will bring help close the gap.”Although students will start class a day earlier, they still will not be permitted to return to their residence halls until Sunday, Jan. 15, residence halls director Michelle Russell said. Russell said she feels students will enjoy their time away from dorm life. “I think it’s nice for the students because they have a longer winter break to relax or earn money for school,” she said.The College’s academic calendar is developed from a perpetual calendar established by Notre Dame many years ago, Kitchner said. This year the calendar allows for an additional week because Christmas falls on a Sunday. Notre Dame registrar Harold Pace said the University’s academic calendar rules dictate that the fall semester always begins on the fourth Tuesday in August and that the spring semester commences on the second or third Tuesday in January – based on the fact that graduation will fall on the third Sunday of May.These are the same calendar regulations that Saint Mary’s follows, but the College now begins semesters on Monday, has one fewer study day during finals week and holds commencement on the third Saturday of May.”I am really excited for the long break. It has been a tough semester, and I think all the students should be able to take advantage of it,” Saint Mary’s junior residence advisor Laura Cucco said. “As an RA, I am not so happy about the school starting on Monday because it is just going to be a mad rush around campus with the students only being able to return on Sunday [Jan. 15].”Saint Mary’s junior Bridget Green agreed and said she typically takes advantage of the class-free Monday to register, purchase books and look up additional information on her classes.”I know that, like most people, I return to campus Sunday night,” Green said. “I usually use that Monday to get back in the swing of things. I just think now there will be lots of confusion on campus.”