A proposal to change Princeton’s ACADEMIC CALENDAR drew mixed reviews from the nearly two dozen professors who spoke about the plan at the faculty meeting April 2. Under the plan, which was expected to be voted on by the faculty April 23, fall-term exams would be held before the winter break in December and a two-week “wintersession” for noncredit activities would take place in January (see the April 11 issue of PAW).
Major points of contention included the wintersession term, which some professors said should be increased to three or four weeks to give students more time to travel or to take credit-bearing courses; and the scheduling of fall exams in December, which could restrict the kinds of assignments professors can give and the amount of feedback they can provide for each student.
“Our current calendar ... gives us the time to assign things that require students to reflect and consolidate their knowledge,” said Kim Lane Scheppele, a professor in the Woodrow Wilson School. “When you squash the evaluations right up against the end of classes, you can’t do that. And the quality of student work really suffers.”
Other faculty members voiced strong support for the proposed calendar. Several noted the changing demographics of the student body as a reason to move exams before winter break.
“Princeton is very different today than it was 10 or 15 years ago,” said Mitchell Duneier, chair of the sociology department. “This calendar will level the playing field in many ways ... for students who may have more demands put on them at home and who may not have a good environment for studying or even ... limited access to the internet.”
If approved, the new calendar would start in 2020-21.