The Case of the Missing Monday: Extended winter break might mean longer classes


Students walk across Forbes Avenue. (TPN File photo)

By John Hamilton and Ashwini Sivaganesh / The Pitt News Staff

If you are signed up for a class that meets on Monday this semester, you might be asked to stay a little longer or come in on a Saturday — if your professor is following instructions from the provost’s office.

A message from the Academic Calendar Committee informed professors and University departments that they should coordinate arrangements to make up for a “missing” class day. Because of the extended winter break, this semester has one less day than the 2017 fall semester and three less than recent spring semesters.

According to the message, each class at Pitt must have 14 weeks of instructions — not including finals week. But because of the day off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, classes that meet Monday won’t fulfill that requirement — meeting only 13 Mondays.

“What is important is that an option is chosen for each affected course and that students are informed early in the term regarding the specific remedy,” the message says.

The provost’s office gives professors the following options on how to make up for the missed class, however, some of the time suggested to make up doesn’t quite make sense.

For a weekly class meeting on Monday, a full 150 minutes of class time is lost this semester. But a Monday class that meets two or three times per week is only losing 75 or 50 minutes, respectively. But the message’s suggestion treats all classes the same — requiring all to makeup 150 minutes. Pitt spokesperson Kevin Zwick did not comment on this discrepancy.  

The message also suggests a Saturday meeting or an online class for the needed amount of lost time. In this case, the message says professors should add the same amount of time as the missed Monday class.

“University leaders and faculty are free to modify any of the suggestions or determine their own solutions in selecting the option that best fits their curricular needs,” Zwick added.

During the previous three spring semesters, classes have resumed the first Wednesday of the new year. Throughout those semesters, Wednesday, Thursday and Fridays classes met 15 times, Tuesday classes met 14 times and Monday classes met 13 times.

Those extra days allowed Monday/Wednesday and Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes to make up the missing day. Tuesday/Thursday classes or a class that met once a week on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, had a bonus day.

And, if you were in a Monday class that met once a week, it seems you actually had a week less of instruction during the past three spring semesters. Zwick did not comment on if Pitt had a policy for making up these classes in the past.

Zwick also did not comment on if and how the policy would be enforced, but said a reminder would be sent out to department deans this week.

Though some professors have heard about this year’s policy, others were unaware until asked by The Pitt News. Laura Bucci, a professor in the political science department, said she hadn’t heard about the policy but was unconcerned about the missing time, saying the material could be covered later in the semester.

“I hope that students use MLK day as a day of service and to get to know Pittsburgh and its political needs a bit better,” Bucci said.

Leave a comment.