Calvin to start before Labor Day, have fall break

Heidi Rienstra spoke on behalf of Provost Cheryl Brandsen 

The 2020/2021 school year hosts three changes in comparison to previous years. These changes include starting before Labor Day on Sept. 1, creating a fall break on Oct. 22-23, and having academic advising on Wednesday, Oct. 21 and Monday Oct. 26, sandwiching fall break. 

Academic advising will now be on the Monday and Wednesday around fall break, and students will be assumed to be available for one of the advising days. There is a team in the registrar’s office brainstorming what academic advising will look like and more concrete information will follow later. Several ideas include having group advising and different advising days for different years. 

According to Rienstra, starting before Labor Day is required with the new fall break in order for Calvin to have the required number of school days. The ultimate thought behind the academic calendar is what will work best pedagogically. The provost and deans create the academic calendar each year. 

During the 2018/2019 school year, a student senate team including now-president Emerson Silvernail and Juliette Mpano proposed changes to academic advising days. Students have been asking for a fall break for several years, and the administration noticed that the semester was a long stretch for students between the beginning of the semester and Thanksgiving, but they were hesitant to add a break. Adding this break meant having to start before Labor Day, and there was a fear that students would leave and not come back to Calvin. There was also not much research surrounding costs and benefits of including a fall break during the school year.

Calvin has started after Labor Day so that students could work an extra week at the end of the summer, and international students could stay an extra week at home because they rarely are able to return home during the school year. 

Rienstra applauded student senate, and Silvernail and Mpano in particular, for doing the research, surveying students, and addressing concerns Calvin had regarding implementing a fall break. The research findings included that a fall break would “help students to finish the semester strong,” according to Rienstra. She noted it was good that they followed through, and they had good meetings and a great presentation. 

According to Silvernail, when the team came up with the idea, Calvin was apprehensive because they didn’t want to start classes before Labor Day. The provost, however, was interested in the idea. When Silvernail was elected student body president, he followed up on the proposal, and Calvin was still discussing the idea. He recently found out the plan to implement student senate’s proposal. He thought that it would not move forward, and is pleasantly surprised to hear the verdict. He notes that it was “cool to see the work culminate without us aggressively pushing it… administration cares just as much as we do about students.” He was happy they were willing to work with them.