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Archive for Tuesday, January 6, 1998

KU STUDENTS, FACULTY MULL FALL BREAK

January 6, 1998

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The fall semester vacation could come in mid- or late October, after mid-term examinations.

Spring break, meet your half-brother: fall break.

Kansas University faculty and students coming back from winter vacation should take note. At this time two years from now, you might be returning from your third multiple-day "time out" of the school year.

Although far from a sure thing and still in the discussion phase, the possibility of a fall recess is expected to gather momentum in the coming semester.

"It's a nice idea," said Larry Draper, president of University Senate and University Council and professor of microbiology. "How we're going to manage it is another thing."

The proposal will likely not involve an entire week. Instead, students and faculty would be given two or three days off in mid- or late October, after mid-term examinations.

"That's all we could come up with without starting school way early or ending way late," said Jason Fizell, KU senior and a member of KU's calendar committee, which is made up of both students and faculty.

Fizell was quick to point out that such a proposal should not be viewed as "Spring Break II."

"We don't want to turn it into a party week," Fizell said. "We want a breather, a chance to catch up on studies ... not to go down to Padre (a student-preferred island off the coast of Texas)."

The calendar committee considered the idea last year, and Senate Executive Committee requested that it be examined further.

KU's calendar, which is approved in three-year cycles, technically would not be up for consideration again until 2001. However, changes might be introduced as early as the 1999-2000 school year.

Any proposal, after review by the appropriate committees, would be added to the official calendar for approval by SenEx and KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway.

The Kansas Board of Regents would then consider the policy. The main requirements: Stick to the 160 required instructional days per school year and the academic calendar guidelines adopted by the board in 1984.

"Staying within the restriction of the number of class days and so forth, it puts strain on the system," Draper said.

Sandy Wick, assistant director of the KU honors program and former administrative assistant with university governance, said a fall break would help university morale.

"To me, it's really needed -- it's a long stretch in the fall," said Wick, who also leads an honors discussion course on western civilization. "You sort of look at it intuitively and say, 'How can we get one out of the spring and not out of the fall?'"

One option to achieve the fall break would be to shorten the finals period from six days to five. So-called "stop day," the buffer between the end of classes and the start of finals, could then be eliminated and finals would begin on a Monday.

An alternate proposal would be to start school a day earlier.

Carol Holstead, KU associate professor of journalism and chair of the calendar committee, said she would prefer five days of finals, starting on a Monday and ending on a Friday. Kansas State University uses a similar schedule.

"The easiest way to do it is to work within the existing constraints of the regents calendar," Holstead said. "This will be the first real serious stab we've taken at it."

Elsewhere, Purdue University uses a four-day fall break, Thursday through Sunday. The University of North Carolina has a five-day recess.

-- Matt Gowen's phone message number is 832-7222. His e-mail address is gowen@ljworld.com.

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