Faculty Senate discusses 5-Year Academic Calendar
Faculty Senate voted to support a proposal from Southeast president Carlos Vargas to shorten Thanksgiving break and add a two-day fall break during its meeting March 27.
In 2015, Southeast ended its two-day fall break and added a weeklong Thanksgiving break to accommodate a scheduling issue with homecoming.
Both Faculty Senate and Student Government Association were in support of bill 18-A-6, passed by the Senate in November as a proposed change to the 5-Year Academic Calendar. The bill proposed a two-day early start to the fall semester, re-introduced a two-day fall break, and maintained a weeklong Thanksgiving break.
In his response letter to Faculty Senate, Vargas stated he was “not in agreement with the recommendation.” He said after conversations with the executive staff and others that the suggested early move-in would add extra costs and adjustments to many start-of-the-year activities.
“I would also be remiss not to share that earlier start date will require more commitment from departments other than Residence Life and Admissions to create activities so that students utilize the extra time between move-in and classes starting wisely,” Vargas stated.
However, he did acknowledge adding a couple of days off in October would not only allow a break for students and faculty, but it would give the Information Technology Department an opportunity to do some projects that may not be able to wait until Thanksgiving.
After the bill was rejected by Vargas in January, SGA voted unanimously to write a letter to the president.
Student representative Renee Owens provided a draft of the letter to Faculty Senate at the March 27 meeting. The letter as it was presented was in support of the original bill.
Owens explained that SGA made the decision that its second option would be to keep the Academic Calendar the way it currently is — no fall break and a weeklong Thanksgiving break.
“Most students are very against cutting down Thanksgiving break for multiple reasons,” she said.
Faculty Senate chair David Powell reiterated that what Vargas suggested was two days of break-in October and three over Thanksgiving.
Professor Eric Clements from the Department of History and Anthropology said faculty work students for 14 weeks, then once Thanksgiving break hits, it is as if only the students’ bodies come back to campus — “their minds are gone.”
“We’re not here to convenience the football team, we’re not here to please the students,” he said. “We’re here to do what’s best for the students.”
Senate ultimately amended the bill to accept Vargas’ compromise proposal. It now has to go back to Vargas who will present it to the board of regents for approval in order to be passed.
The next board of regents meeting will be on Friday, May 10.