At Monday’s faculty meeting, the College administration and faculty chose to postpone, perhaps indefinitely, a change to Bowdoin’s academic calendar that has the potential to significantly enhance our college experience.
We are disappointed, to say the least, and you should be too.
The change is simple on paper: it involves pushing back first year arrival from Tuesday to Saturday and beginning classes two days earlier. Yet it solves many of Bowdoin’s easily identifiable problems: a hectic Orientation, an even crazier Phase II registration, and a financially taxing break schedule.
By adding a day of Orientation, it has the potential to unpack the Orientation programming schedule, giving first years the time to both discover opportunities in their new home and reflect on these with their classmates.
The change can limit the financial burden of a weekday move-in on all our families by switching it to a weekend, which would eliminate the need for our family members to miss work in order to bring us to Bowdoin.
Additionally, the extra day would universally improve our academic experience by providing more time for departments to revise course offerings in response to Phase I demand and for students to make informed choices before Phase II registration.
Lastly, the two extra class days at the beginning of the year would allow the College to extend Thanksgiving break without shortening Fall Break—a change that would make traveling home for Thanksgiving financially feasible for more students.
Dean Foster cited three reasons for this postponement: the limited scope of the proposed change, the possibility that Polaris (the new student information system) may solve some of these problems, and a number of faculty concerns. However, we do not believe that these reasons present a strong enough case against the benefits of the proposed change, and we strongly believe that the College and faculty should reconsider implementing this measure.
The two main issues brought up by faculty members at the October meeting were the fact that the calendar change requires professors to return to campus four days earlier, curtailing vacation and research time, and the belief that the changes are unnecessary or unwarranted.
To address the first concern—though we acknowledge the amount of research, service, and preparation the Faculty conduct over the summer, the impact of losing four days from a period of 14 weeks seems negligible, especially in light of the benefits for the student body. We deeply value and appreciate the massive efforts of our faculty to shape and improve the student experience as is, but for what seems to be a small loss, we are presented with an enormous gain.
More to the point, we are writing to urge students to join us in respectfully disagreeing with the second faculty concern: that the change is unnecessary, or even frivolous. This change presents us with not only the opportunity to vastly improve the first year Orientation experience, but also to revive the proposal to extend Thanksgiving break to a full week without curtailing Fall break, a change that 94% of students agreed with last fall.
We hope that students will voice their support for this change to their professors and join us in petitioning the faculty and administration to formally consider it and the extension of Thanksgiving break at the December faculty meeting.
The BSG Executive Committee
Daniela Chediak ’13, President
Chris Breen ’15, Vice President for BSG Affairs
Sarah Levin ’13, Vice President for Student Affairs
Leah Greenberg ’13, Vice President for Academic Affairs
Brian Kim ’13, Vice President for Student Organizations (SOOC Chair)
Tessa Kramer ’13, Vice President for Facilities and Sustainability
Charlie Cubeta ’13 , Vice President of the Treasury (SAFC Chair)
Bernie Clevens ’15, Programming Director