Faculty supports elimination of Saturday final exams
Published: Monday, November 7, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 04:11
The Faculty Senate voted in favor of modifying a proposal to eliminate final exams scheduled on Saturdays on Monday in Gore Hall, sparking debate between members over the merits of the suggestion.
The body's committee on undergraduate studies requested to eliminate the traditional scheduling of final exams on Saturdays, citing the day's use as a day of worship by many students and professors, such as those who practice Judaism.
The members of the Faculty Senate voted in favor of changing the clause, so that it does not designate Saturday as a typical day of instruction at the university.
The senate's coordinating committee on education and executive committee also supported the request except for extraordinary circumstances.
Many senators, such as communication professor John Courtright, said the measure, which did not eliminate Saturday exams during winter and summer sessions, did not accurately address the issue of religion during special sessions.
"If it's a day of worship during fall and spring, it's a day of worship in winter," Courtright said.
Physics professor and committee member John Morgan said he wanted to amend the committee's recommendation to exclude the religious connotations behind the committee's motives.
However, Morgan said the blanket policy of eliminating Saturday final exams could be insensitive to those who do not have conflicts on that particular day.
"If we start using one religion to not hold exams, it's difficult to not include others," Morgan said.
He said it may also be difficult to justify religion as the reason for altering the exam schedule because the university and its collective student body does not affiliate itself with a single religion.
"I hope I'm not alone in thinking that it's dangerous for a secular state-supported university to base its policies on religion," Morgan said.
Removing final exams on Saturdays would also put more pressure on students, Morgan said. In particular, he cited an analysis of exam scheduling from the spring 2010 semester, in which as many as 342 students took three exams on the same day and more than 100 students had to take three exams in consecutive testing periods.
"Many of our undergraduates have very congested final exam schedules," Morgan said.
On some occasions, university students are scheduled to take as many as four final exams within a 24-hour period, he said. Morgan also suggested that students in smaller classes should be allowed to determine the scheduling of their final exams with professors, which would not be allowed under the current form of the proposal.
Food and resource economics Professor Steven Hastings said he would not vote for a measure that would allow students to negotiate with professors.
"I will not support anything that says faculty can make some kind of deal with the students," Hastings said.
The committee will be re-examine and adjust the proposal with consideration to the passed amendment.
The Faculty Senate committee also voted to accept American Sign Language as a language for admission to the university and a request to eliminate the engineering technology major and minor.