Class cancellation policy remains unclear

Professors practices vary despite the U’s blanket policy.

Danielle Nordine

Confusion surrounding class cancellation policies at the University of Minnesota is causing some students to start their Thanksgiving break early, while others must stay on campus for Wednesday classes. There are varying understandings among professors, students and administrators over whether holding classes the day before Thanksgiving is required. Cathrine Wambach, chair of the University SenateâÄôs educational policy committee said the UniversityâÄôs policy is that professors are expected to hold class at the scheduled time, even Wednesday evening. âÄúThe official University policy would be that the professor would be expected to have class, and that students would be expected to be there,âÄù Wambach, a post-secondary teaching and learning professor, said. However, University spokesman Ryan Maus, speaking on behalf of the Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education, said there is âÄúno blanket policy or guidelines for cancelling class for faculty members.âÄù âÄúWe arenâÄôt âĦ all on the same page, I think, across campus,âÄù Wambach said. Despite the policy, Wambach said she would be âÄúshockedâÄù if there were any disciplinary action against a professor who cancelled a class the day before break. Generally, professors expect low attendance in their Wednesday classes, and many find ways to accommodate students who canâÄôt or donâÄôt make it to class. âÄúI am holding class. IâÄôm sure attendance will be down,âÄù said Steven Kass, who teaches a weekly organic chemistry class Wednesday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Yet, he is sensitive to students who cannot attend. âÄúIâÄôm also aware people are traveling and wonâÄôt be there,âÄù Kass said. âÄúThe compromise is IâÄôll post the notes so they can see what they missed.âÄù First-year Rachel Rahkola said two of her earlier classes were cancelled, so she is planning on skipping her third later class because âÄúthereâÄôs no point in sticking around for it.âÄù Chris Dovolis cancelled his Structure of Computer Programming class. âÄúGenerally, attendance is pretty low as people try to get on their way to their Thanksgiving plans,âÄù he said, adding it was an appropriate time to miss a class, because he gave the students a midterm on Monday. Wambach said the shorter fall semester is the reason the University has classes the day before Thanksgiving. As the campus nears the long weekend, closed libraries and cafeterias put students in the mindset to skip their last classes before a break, she said. âÄúIt really kind of gives students the impression that the whole University is closed on Wednesday night,âÄù she said. âÄúStudents start to get the message that âĦ they should feel free to leave.âÄù