Calendar questions answered

Registration and Class Schedule Committee says the late fall start is due to term scheduling

Callie Ramsey

To many, the Washington and Lee academic calendar is a mystery. Why do we start so late? What’s the reason for recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day but not until next year?

Macy Foster ’17 said, “Every fall when my friends have left for their universities I sit at home wondering why on earth W&L starts so late.”

Foster is not alone. Perry O’Connor ‘17 said, “I just don’t understand why our schedule differs so much. It makes it so much harder to coordinate with friends from home.”

An Executive Committee called the Registration and Class Schedule Committee develops the academic calendar. The RSCS is strictly an undergraduate committee.

The RSCS is comprised of a chair, the associate deans of the College and the Williams School, faculty members serving five year terms, the athletic director, the PE director and two students appointed by the Executive Committee president. It meets twice annually or on an as-needed basis.

The committee drafts a calendar for an academic year and submits recommendations to the Faculty Executive Committee. From there, the calendar is approved or rejected by faculty votes.

There are always three academic year calendars approved at a time. In addition to these final editions, there is one in the process of approval, and one being developed.

“Developing the calendar is the most difficult part of registraring. It always has challenges,” said RSCS Chair Barbara Rowe. “The top priority for the faculty is to have as many full weeks as possible.”

Rowe also said that W&L starts so late because starting earlier would not make sense with the 12-12-4 week terms. If school started earlier fall term would either end before Thanksgiving or students would have finals immediately upon returning from Thanksgiving.

As for MLK Day, that change took place over the last two months and is set to go into effect in the 2015-2016 school year.

In May the faculty asked the RSCS to make a recommendation for a new calendar.

Next, the faculty had a formal debate where they decided to take MLK Day off without making up the day anywhere in the calendar.

“Of course it is our hope that even though it is a day off from classes students spend it doing activities related to the event,” said Rowe.

According to Rowe, the university is not required to hold classes on a certain number of days so if classes are called off due to weather there is no obligation by the university to hold make-up days. It is instead at the discretion of the professor.

The institution of spring Term in 1970 has been the largest change to the school calendar. More recently, the term pattern was switched from 12-13-6 to 12-12-4.