Rod Driver

Letter from The Cigar (URI student newspaper), December 4, 1987

Suggestions for a short semester

ROD DRIVER (Professor of Mathematics)

Some years ago, a semester at URI meant about 75 days of classes. But semesters have been shrinking.

This fall was scheduled to have only 64 class days. (We have convinced ourselves that we musn't start before Labor Day or continue after Christmas.)

Then we deducted a snow day. (Rhode Island public schools are required to operate 180 days per year; and if this means continuing until the end of June to make up snow days, that's what they do. But I haven't heard a murmur about URI making up for November 12.)

As Thanksgiving approached, several of my students wondered why we were having class on November 25. Their other classes were cancelled for that day. I understand that some were also cancelled on November 30, and some will sacrifice a class period for the final exam or even waive the final for some or all of the students.

This brings us down to the kind of fall term which would be referred to as a ``quarter" rather than a "semester" at other universities.

Fortunately, a logical solution is available. I propose that (1) all "3-credit" courses taken this semester be recorded on students' transcripts as "2-credit" courses, (2) faculty salaries for December be withheld, and (3) the money generated be disbursed to the enrolled students to compensate them for missing class days.

Finally, I suggest that the Calendar Committee and the Faculty Senate get serious about the length of future semesters before someone sues us for educational malpractice.

(Postscript: There was little support for these proposals by students or faculty.)