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The Daily Tar Heel

Program Directors: Less Class Days Not Necessary

The resolution, which was passed Friday by the UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Council, requests that the Board of Governors give UNC-system schools freedom to set their own academic calendars.

Faculty members in favor of the resolution said it would eliminate students' conflicts with summer jobs, classes, internships and study abroad opportunities.

But the directors of University Career Services and the Study Abroad Office said a shortened school year would do little to benefit students in these areas.

Marcia Harris, the director of UCS, said UNC-CH students occasionally have calendar conflicts with summer jobs and internships but that these occurrences are rare. When the timing of the academic calendar and the work schedule does conflict, Harris encourages students to negotiate with the employers. "Sometimes the employer will work with the student and allow them to come a week later or leave a week earlier," she said.

Harris said UNC-CH students fare well in the competition for jobs and internships, despite the timing conflicts. "It would be very hard to argue that students are getting hurt by the longer calendar."

A shorter school year also has few advantages for students wanting to study abroad, said Bob Miles, director of the Study Abroad Program.

He said that while the calendar discrepancies can sometimes present difficulties, having a shortened calendar would offer only marginal assistance.

"It may offer more flexibility, but it won't make a huge difference," Miles said.

Despite these extracurricular concerns, academic opportunities also play into the calendar debate. Risa Palm, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said shortening the calendar could help improve the quality of courses by forcing professors to focus on crucial information.

"I think what we are looking at is not the number of weeks professors teach or the hours students are in lecture, but what we are looking at is the depth of courses, and we can do that better in a shorter calendar," Palm said.

The Faculty Council also cited the Robertson Scholars program as a major reason for shortening the calendar.

The program, which is in its first year, tries to enhance the relationship between UNC-CH and Duke University by allowing students to enroll in classes at both institutions.

Eric Mlyn, director of the Robertson Scholars Program, said the discrepancies make the program logistically challenging but that the problem does not have to be solved with a shorter calendar.

"I have no position on the length of calendar, but it would help if the calendars of the two schools were more in line."

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