Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Travel Days?

The subject of travel days came up in one of my meetings today. This time we were talking about officially cancelling classes the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (which probably also means Tuesday evening classes).

We already officially cancel classes the Monday after Easter so that people can travel more safely. (You can insert my very non-Christian thoughts about kow-towing to religious practices at a state university here. I dislike it, but it's not worth fighting this particular aspect of the oppressive power base that is Christianity in this area.)

Some instructors here unofficially cancel their classes, and that practice gives students impetus to leave early, and puts the rest of us in a position of having half-filled classes on Wednesday. Do we reward students for coming? Punish those who aren't there? One quarter of my students in my first year class missed Monday of this week as well. What to do about that?

Safe travel's an issue here in the upper midwest this time of year, as we can get some nasty snowstorms and such.

On the other hand, if we officially cancel classes on Wednesday, we'll have the same pressures to let students off on Monday and Tuesday.

What do you folks think?

(And don't forget, we also have students who take off days for hunting season.)


  1. Hunting season? Oh my.

    I have a problem cancelling classes because of holidays. I understand that students don't want to be in class (then again, they don't on regular days either) and I sympathize with issues of travel and traffic. However.

    Like you, I have some problems with the automatic deference to religious holidays. I don't quite follow why I should rearrange my teaching schedule to allow students to take part in a voluntary activity. And I only get so much time to teach so much material in a semester.

    Then again, I have to cancel classes when I voluntarily go to conferences - and yes, I do feel a little conflicted about that.

  2. When I was a student, I was always kinda glad for classes that ran right up to the edge of a holiday--it gave me an unassailable excuse NOT to travel (which was an expensive hassle anyway). It was more fun to hang around and celebrate whatever I wanted to celebrate with my local friends.

    On the other hand, the dorms at our state university closed for some long holiday weekends--including Thanksgiving, I believe--so undergrads had little choice but to travel--in that situation, safe travel is the best you can hope for. It wasn't really a student's choice to go home, or go some place--they really couldn't stay on campus.

  3. Anonymous7:38 PM

    Maybe it's because I'm still technically a student (as well as an instructor), but I cancelled class the day before Thanksgiving. We get very little by way of vacation fall semester -- a Mon. and Tues. in October, plus Thanksgiving. By that point in the semester, I'm ready to crash and decompress a bit before taking the plunge into the last two weeks of classes and exams. That one extra day feels like an affordable luxury.

  4. Anonymous12:13 AM

    I agree with you, Bardiac, that if the university officially makes the Wednesday before Thanksgiving part of the holiday that students will be more likely to bug out on Monday or Tuesday. Here's the logic, 'Hey, this is a Monday, Wednesday, Friday class. I don't have class on Wednesday or Friday of this week, so I may as well miss Monday.'

    At my university, the Thanksgiving holiday runs the entire week of the holiday with Friday before the week of Thanksgiving as the last day of class. Yet I still had an advisee who left for the break on Wednesday (two days before the break began). Give them an inch....

  5. I think that, if you have a student body who has to travel to get to their homes, cancelling class the day before or the day after a holiday is fair. The fact of the matter is that these are generally family times, with family obligations -- regardless of the religous origins of the holiday.

    Think about it this way -- to get home, they shouldn't have to travel ON the holiday. So, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Monday after Easter are reasonable.

    As for holiday creep -- you can either decide to show a movie or give an exam... two extremes, either to sanction the no-show or to compel attendance. Frankly, I make the determiniation based on their attendance pattern for the rest of the semester...

  6. I'm are also in the Midwest and we officially cancel classes the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Good Friday is conveniently scheduled as the "Campus Spring Holiday" for staff but there are still classes in session. I can't imagine canceling classes for Good Friday and the Monday after, but then we are not a residential campus. I still doubt anyone schedules exams for Good Friday because you then have to deal with accommodations for religious reasons.