Published March 28, 2013
Classes would be held on Labor Day and the Jewish holy days with a full-week fall recess during Thanksgiving week if proposed changes to the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic calendar are approved.
The Faculty Senate Executive Committee will vote on two separate proposals at its April 3 meeting: to hold classes on Labor Day and provide a full week of class recess during Thanksgiving week, and to hold classes on the Jewish holy days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
The Faculty Senate had been scheduled to vote on the proposals at its March 5 meeting, but lack of a quorum brought the matter back to the FSEC. If approved by the FSEC, the proposals then would go to President Satish K. Tripathi for his approval and promulgation.
The 2013-14 and 2014-15 calendars, which were approved by the FSEC on Feb. 13 and promulgated by Tripathi on March 15, include a January Winter Session that sets the opening of each spring semester to the last Monday in January and moves commencement Sunday to the third Sunday in May. The proposals currently before the FSEC would modify those calendars.
An open debate on the proposed calendar changes was held during the senate’s March 5 meeting. A. Scott Weber, senior vice provost for academic affairs, and Richard Lipsitz, president of the Western New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, spoke on the Labor Day and fall break proposal; William H. Baumer, professor of philosophy and a member of the senate’s ad hoc Calendar Committee, and Bernard Weinstein, professor of physics, addressed the proposal regarding the Jewish holy days.
Baumer and Ezra Zubrow, professor of anthropology and chair of the Faculty Senate, outlined for the UB Reporter the arguments for and against the proposed calendar changes.
Among the arguments for holding classes on these holidays:
Arguments for maintaining no classes on these holidays include:
Zubrow noted that the calendar proposals have garnered a lot of attention, not only at UB but in the broader community. He said has received more than 50 telephone calls, letters and emails regarding the issues.
“I find it a little surprising,” he said. “I thought this was an internal issue. I hadn’t realized so many people were out there watching UB.”
Zubrow added that he was impressed by the arguments made both for and against the calendar changes during the senate debate. “They were not emotional harangues; they were absolutely clear to the issues, to what is best for the university,” he said.
As a UB alumna, I am shocked that the administration would consider holding classes on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. These are holy days for Jewish people that require full-time attendance in the synagogue. This is no different from not holding classes on Christmas, which would not happen, even if it were not during winter break. The university should respect the needs of its students and faculty, and not take this discriminatory step.