University News

Rosh Hashanah poses scheduling issues for first week of classes

The U. lengthened shopping period for students, faculty members and staff observing the Jewish holiday

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, September 5, 2013

Students file out of Salomon Center after attending one of the first classes of the semester.

Featuring sunshine and post-summer reunions, this year’s first day of classes presented an extra complication beyond the usual challenges of shopping period, as Wednesday evening marked the beginning of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah.

Because of the conflict between the first days of classes and the holiday, which continues until Friday, the University extended the length of shopping period, rescheduled Convocation, provided information about canceled classes and encouraged professors to excuse students who missed the first days of classes, Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron wrote in a community-wide email Aug. 14.

Most students said course selection was foremost on their minds yesterday, with those who celebrate Rosh Hashanah noting additional scheduling problems with religious services and classes.

“Friday I’m going to have to be running in and out between (Hillel) and my classes,” said Natasha Freeman ’15, a member of the Hillel Programming Board. “I’m shopping less than I usually do” as a result, she added.

Freeman said she thinks there will be fewer people at the services this year because of classes.

The University has been accommodating, said Chelsea Feuchs ’14, president of the Student Executive Board for Hillel. Students could be free to shop other classes in lieu of the ones canceled on Friday, she said.

Feuchs said that as a senior, she understands “how to take advantage of the full two weeks” of shopping period, but for first-years, the overlap of classes and the holiday “can add a little bit of extra stress.”

First-years’ expectations did not always line up with reality on the first day of their first-ever shopping period.

“My first class was (CSCI 0170: “Computer Science: An Integrated Introduction”),” said Chris Robotham ’17. “I was five minutes early and expected to get a great seat.” But Robotham was only able to claim a seat on the floor and could not see the professor, he said.

Some first-years noted the possibility of discovering a new class. “Because I was free in the morning, I decided to go with a friend to sit in on a class,” said Mary Chetmai ’17. “Now I think I’m going to take it.”

Other first-years said the number of courses available to shop could be overwhelming. “It’s a bit stressful because someone has too much to choose from … (or) because the courses may be full,” said Fredrick Mandela ’17.

Shopping period veterans have developed strategies for navigating the first days of classes.

“Usually, I have three (classes) that are pretty set, and then I shop for the last one,” said Cesar Guerrero ’16.

Students said shopping period offers them the chance to experience their courses firsthand, before committing to them. The ability to attend a class instead of only reading about it is “one of the things I like about being here,” said transfer student Zachary Atkins-Weltman ’15.


– With additional reporting by Stephen Ark, Alex Blum, Katherine Lamb and Steven Michael

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