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Professor promotes alternative to havoc-causing class schedule switches

February 14th, 2016 Posted in USU Life, USU Statewide

By Boden Lamb

Utah State University students across the state are scrambling this week to adjust to the school’s annual Monday-classes-on-Tuesday schedule switch — and one professor believes it’s time to end the hassle.

The switch is necessitated by the advent of two holidays observed on Mondays each spring semester. A similar Friday-classes-on-Thursday switch occurs each fall to accommodate for classes missed during the Thanksgiving break.

Michael Lyons, who teaches political science at the university’s Logan campus, said the switches seem to be causing more problems than ever.

“I have students from many different majors who take my courses,” Lyons said. “They have started to ask me if we are having class. I tell them yes we are. We take education seriously in the political science department.”

But, Lyons said, not everyone apparently feels the same way. He said he’s seen a 30 percent drop in attendance on the Monday-scheduled Tuesday in recent years. And it’s worse, he said, during the fall.

“I hate it,” he said. “The whole system should be changed, especially fall semester.”

Critics of the switches have pointed out that students who build work and child care plans around their academic schedules must make alternate plans. Some simply opt to miss class and take an extra day on an already long weekend.

According to the Utah State registrar’s office, the switches are necessary to maintain a minimum number of class days for each student.

But Lyons thinks there’s another way. He has offered a revamped academic calendar in an effort to change the current schedule in a way that would discourage school skipping – and he said every student to whom he’s shown the plan has been supportive.

Under the Lyons plan, the school year would start a week earlier. This would shorten summer break by a week but would extend semester holiday breaks.

“Right now fall break is a joke and nobody shows up to school Thanksgiving week,” he said. “We should give everybody a couple more days off so they can actually plan a trip and go somewhere.”

Lyons also said pushing the first day of school forward would encourage students to come to school when they are supposed to. He said Labor Day — which comes just a week into fall semester — encourages students to take the first week off and then ask to be placed in courses the second week.

In order for his plan to be instituted, however, several changes would have to occur.

Each summer, hundreds of senior citizens — many who come to Logan to escape the Arizona heat — join Utah State’s Summer Citizen program. This summer they were still living in student housing just days before the beginning of fall semester. If school were to start earlier the summer citizen program would have to be shortened and the freshman student orientation would have to be rescheduled.

McKenna Philips, who took concurrent enrollment classes at the Utah State University extension in Vernal, said it’s definitely time for a change. She noted that the schedule shift plays havoc for the increasing number of students who are enrolled in more than one institution.

Although Philips is now graduated from high school she said she still supports the Lyons plan for her younger friends who might still run into the same problem.

“The high school year starts before the Utah State one,” she said. “The new schedule would just even it out.”

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