Junior Melissa Henderson planned to use April 29 and April 30 to study for finals this semester.
Those two days – previously designated as reading days – were going to give her time to spread out her studying and writing assignments, two tasks that often take over the lives of students at the end of each semester.
But February’s historic snowstorms – which canceled an unprecedented four straight days of class – nixed many students’ plans, as reading days will be replaced with makeup classes in many courses across campus.
“I have six classes, six midterms and two papers,” said Henderson, adding that two of her professors are using at least some of the four makeup days that will be held from April 28 to May 1. “I need those reading days. Everything seems bunched up and there isn’t enough time.”
Associate Vice President for Academic Operations Jeffrey Lenn said while makeup classes have been scheduled, professors are not required to utilize them, as long as they have covered all of the material outlined in the course syllabus.
“The University expects that all professors will complete their spring courses by covering the full range of topics listed in the syllabus,” Lenn said. “Most important for meeting this goal is giving students the opportunity to make up missed classes, particularly those caused by snow in February.”
Lenn added, however, that he has no way of knowing how many of the University’s professors are planning to utilize the makeup days.
Professor John Conway, chair of the mathematics department, said he communicated with students on Blackboard during the storm, but is holding class on the makeup days to cover material he considers integral to his course.
Catherine Allen, chair of the anthropology department, said she would be holding class as well.
“I feel that the unexpected week off kind of threw us off our stride, and right now we feel even more rushed and pressed for time than we normally do,” Allen said.
Other professors agreed that the snow days and subsequent makeup days have thrown students off, affecting both student motivation and the semester’s momentum.
Psychology professor Jennifer Rinker said she saw a lack of focus from students after February’s snow, and plans to use the makeup days.
“The break occurred a few weeks before spring break, and between the two it was difficult to keep the students focused,” Rinker said. “I had to move tests around, change the quiz schedule and push back assignments, which throws everyone, students included, off kilter.”
Students met the University’s makeup class schedule with anger when it was first announced. A Facebook group called “Boycott disastrous GWU snow make-up schedule” popped up soon after the policy was released and now has more than 1,600 members.
Sophomore Rodrigo Tranamil said final exams are stressful enough, adding that taking away study time is “ridiculous.”
“They should have taken a moment to think of how the makeup days would impact the students,” Tranamil said.
Two of his professors are holding makeup classes, and one has made attendance mandatory.
“Taking away that time will hinder a lot of the students’ potential to do well on exams,” Tranamil said.
Yet some students, like those who have anthropology professor Alexander Dent, will not have to attend the planned makeup days.
Dent said he had prepared for a flu-related class interruption at the beginning of the semester, so when the snow started to fall he was ready to upload pre-recorded MP3 files of his lectures to Blackboard.
“I’ve done a lot of sound recording, so the technology involved was simple, as was Blackboard’s interface,” Dent said. “In the future, I might study some more and make use of the group chat function that actually allows everyone to be present online at the same time.”
Monday, April 26: Regular Monday classes
Tuesday, April 27: Make-up Monday, Feb. 8 canceled classes
Wednesday, April 28: Designated Monday
Thursday, April 29: Make-up Tuesday, Feb. 9 canceled classes
Friday, April 30: Make-up Wednesday, Feb. 10 canceled classes
Saturday, May 1: Make-up Thursday, Feb. 11 canceled classes