For Students, Day Off Is an Unexpected GiftBy Sarah Y. Keightley
Editor in Chief
Yesterday's Institute holiday came as a pleasant surprise to many students. Registrar David S. Wiley '61 said that the vacation day was created "to balance out the [number of] Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes and the Tuesday-Thursday classes," under the new calendar.
This is the first academic year that the new calendar, which the faculty voted on in spring 1993, takes effect.
The holiday will not be a permanent addition to the new calendar, Wiley said. Instead, yesterday's holiday corrects for an "irregular calendar," he said.
The new calendar schedules school to begin after Labor Day, which traditionally falls on the first Monday in September. For years in which Labor Day comes early in the month, the Institute calendar will include the holiday. But in years where Labor Day falls later in September, "the class days get tighter," and there will be no vacation day on the third Monday in September, Wiley said.
In terms of the placement of the holiday in the calendar year, "there was some feeling in the original committee that it's nice to have holidays spaced out throughout the term," Wiley said.
Because there were no holidays early in the term, the committee decided to have the holiday fall at the end of September.
Sharing the sentiment of most students, Gabriel H. Nahigian '96 said, "I have no idea why today is a holiday, but I'm not going to complain about it."
Mingfawn Chow '97 speculated that the holiday was added to this year's calendar to compensate for the extra week added to the new calendar starting this academic year.
Many students used the day to relax and catch up with their work.
Nahigian said the extra day enabled him to catch up on his problem sets and catch up with his Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program work.
Joshua A. Breslau '95 used the extra time to work on his thesis project.
Lisa M. Ho '97 thought of the holiday as a "day off." It "was like a Sunday," she said.
Students seemed to appreciate the vacation day.
"I thought it was nice of them," said Christina Hsu '97, who went home for the weekend.
Changes discussed in spring '93
In 1993 an ad hoc calendar committee made recommendations to lengthen the school year and to make the number of days in the fall term equivalent to the number of days in the spring term. These recommendations included making the school year start before Labor Day. But several students and faculty members voiced their concern that this would drastically shorten the summer vacation.
Though the committee originally proposed to extend semesters to 67 class days each, the final calendar made each semester 65 class days in most years, and lengthened Independent Activities Period to a full four weeks. In past years, the typical fall term was 61 days and the typical spring term was 64 days.
As part of the restructuring, the fall term will always begin on the first Wednesday after Labor Day. Exam periods will run from Monday to Friday in both semesters, and the reading period is extended from three to four days.
Two years out of seven, when Labor Day comes later in September, there will be only 63 days in the fall term to insure that classes do not begin before Labor Day.