Students reflect on snow make-up day solutions

By Milton Eldridge

The classes held on the first Saturday snow make-up day seemed to vary in… The classes held on the first Saturday snow make-up day seemed to vary in importance.

Pitt student Pam Derck said her philosophy professor chose to hold class Saturday, but she felt as though the professor made the class mandatory without actually doing so.

“He said it wasn’t mandatory but said we would be covering material essential to the final,” Derck said. Derck attended the class.

Many of the missed Monday classes met on Saturday, while the canceled Tuesday classes will meet on April 17. About 70 percent of professors with Monday classes requested rooms to hold classes missed during Snowpocalypse, the historic snowstorm that hit in February and caused Pitt to cancel four days of classes. The Office of the University Registrar e-mailed professors asking them to respond by Feb. 18 if they didn’t want to reserve a classroom on the two make-up days.

The registrar received room requests for 1,062 classes out of 1,517 for this past Saturday and 1,159 classes for Saturday, April 17 out of 1,590.

Pat Wehman, who works in the registrar’s office, said the office wanted to know how many teachers were not holding Saturday classes to determine how many classrooms would be available. The room request doesn’t make sure the teachers make up missed work, it just indicates the space is available, Wehman said.

Pitt’s Provost Office’s Calendar Committee made the decision to hold Saturday make-up classes. Barbara Heron, an observing member on the committee, said it made the decision so Pitt could maintain its usual number of Mondays and Tuesdays per academic year. Pitt won’t make up Wednesday classes because the University has its usual number of Wednesday classes even with the one missed in February, Heron said.

“These Saturdays were chosen because they had the least amount of classes and scheduled events,” Heron said referring to March 27 and April 17. Heron said she is not aware of any repercussions for professors who chose not to make up their classes.

Pitt spokesman John Fedele said in an e-mail, “Instructors are not required to make up the class, and there will be no punishment for those who choose to cover the course materials in another way.”

Engineering major Kennan Arlen said his Sci-Fi: East and West professor chose to hold a film viewing last Saturday.

“The class wasn’t mandatory. The film is one we have to watch for the class anyway and are free to watch outside of class as well,” Arlen said. Arlen did not attend the Saturday class.

Arlen also has a professor who chose to extend every one of his classes for five to 10 minutes to make up for lost time. Arlen said the class voted for this option over holding a Saturday class.

Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences N. John Cooper issued directions to the heads of different departments concerning the Saturday make-up classes, which they then forwarded to professors.

John Twyning, chair of the English Department, said he viewed these missed classes as any other class cancellation.

“There is always an expectation to make up a missed class,” he said. “This would be true if the professor was sick or had to attend a conference.”

Twyning knows some professors intend to hold a Saturday class while others assigned extra work to make up for lost time. This decision, as with any missed class, is up to the professor’s own discretion.

“If I had a class, I would hold a class on one of the Saturdays if the majority of students could and weren’t working,” Twyning said. “If not, I would assign extra reading or an e-mail assignment.”

Katherine Carlitz, an adjunct professor, teaches a class called Law and Literature in China. When Pitt canceled school on Feb. 8, Carlitz assigned work to make up for the missed time, because she knew she was attending a conference this past Saturday. “I assigned a reaction paper,” she said. “The e-mail from the department was not clear to me in terms of what we had to do, so I e-mailed the department back indicating I would not be holding classes on Saturday.”

Tanya Reyes, who teaches Seminar in Composition, chose to hold a Saturday class for students to review their finished portfolios together on April 17.

“Since it’s right at the end, I’m thinking of doing something informal at Fuel and Fuddle,” she said.

Barbara Warnick, the chair of the Communication Department, described how some of her faculty members are handling the Saturday make-up days, as well as her view on them.

“Various strategies are being used,” she said in an e-mail. “Extending the class time, if students agree and adding assignments; assigning additional online materials. Assigning off campus cultural events relevant to the course content, etc. I believe that there are only one or two faculty who have decided to convene Saturday classes, but I’m confident that the students are getting ‘value’ through these compensating mechanisms.”

Patrick Bertolio, like many other students, dreads attending class the Saturday before finals. Bertolio, an engineering major at Pitt, will have to make up his physics class on April 17.

“It’s physics. The Saturday class isn’t mandatory, but if you miss one day of physics you miss a lot,” Bertonilo said. Because the date is so close to finals, the professor will most likely be reviewing material for the final as well, he said.