Shorter winter break controversial

Ann Bykerk-Kauffman, a professor in the Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences at Chico State.

Chico State cut one week off winter break this year, giving less time for winter intersession studies and confusing students with their spring class schedules.

Winter break is typically five weeks long. This year it was was four weeks long so that spring graduation wouldn’t fall on the same weekend as Memorial Day in May, according to the office of the registrar. Classes instead began on Jan. 21.

During winter break, Chico State offers two and three unit intersession classes for students. Those courses began on Jan. 3 this year.

With the new calendar, students and faculty must complete courses in three weeks.

“It’s just barely possible for us, but for most intersession classes it’s nearly impossible,” said Ann Bykerk-Kauffman, professor in geological and environmental sciences.

The shorter break also impacted graduate students, Bykerk-Kauffman said. Graduate students in geology and environmental science are required to conduct field and research work. The only chance for them to complete those requirements are Thanksgiving, spring and winter breaks.

Class began on a Tuesday, which created schedule confusion in the student portal. Some students missed class Monday on the second week of school.

“I had a student write me that she got her schedule off the portal for the first week and it had nothing on Monday, so she forgot to go to classes the Monday after the first week because she was using that schedule for the whole semester,” Bykerk-Kauffman said.

The office of the registrar sent a system-wide email to inform students about Monday classes.

Students who were waitlisted for Monday courses had to wait until the second school week in order to try to enroll into classes, Bykerk-Kauffman said.

The administration also had issues with organization and scheduling, Donald Miller, a professor in the department of biological sciences at Chico State.

I did not get the impression that they were ready either,” he said. “I had to ask repeatedly for information from them.”

Starting classes on a Tuesday was especially difficult for professors who have multiple laboratory sections during the week, Miller said.

“You’ll usually have laboratory sections meeting Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and even Thursday,” he said. “The problem is, if you start the semester missing the Monday lab section, it throws out of whack what you do with the Monday afterwards,” Miller said.

Even if the laboratory classes during the rest of the week can meet, the students in Monday lab sections fell behind, Miller said. Many professors canceled labs in the first week to prevent this.

Next year, the break will be four weeks long again with spring classes beginning on Jan. 20, according to the 2014-2015 academic calendar.

Madison Holmes can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.