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January 24, 2002


Eliminate "syllabus day"

To the editor:

As a student of the University, I confess I cannot share Dr. Siska's disappointment (University Times, Jan. 10, 2002) that this (spring) semester will be shorter, particularly because its relative brevity is due to its delayed beginning, a blessing if there ever was one.

I also don't lament the fact that I will be receiving 3 credits for 14 and 1/2 weeks of hard work; as a transfer student from another school, it is distinctly evident that quality instruction is far more important than a negligible dip in class hours. However, because I make an effort to attend all classes, but most relevant to this letter, especially the first several classes of the semester (as, I have found, do most of my classmates — lecture halls burgeon in the first week as they do only on test days), I always desire that the time spent in them will be fruitful, and this applies to the teeming first several classes just as it does to any others.

In light of this, and in light of the campus's computer resources, I propose a new approach to semester beginnings. Instead of the first day/week perfunctory discussion o' the syllabus and redundant exhortations to succeed, why not post syllabi on the Course Web before classes begin (which would require opening the computer labs before classes begin, i.e. Saturday and Sunday), or on a student accessible site sometime before winter recess, so that students could read them, know course requirements and be responsible for them personally (a real world skill of the sort schools are so fond of imparting), and come to the first class prepared for discussion/lecture, having read whatever is necessary, thereby rendering "syllabus day," or sometimes week, a relic, making the following days of the semester more productive, saving thousands of sheets of paper and copier ink, giving students a real taste of the class immediately, allowing for more informed drop/add decisions, and above all, making better use of valuable class time. If we're present, after all, odds are we want to learn.

Andrew Harnish

Sophomore, Undeclared

College of Arts and Sciences

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