Tuesday, December 7, 1999

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The Daily Gazette

Swarthmore College
Tuesday, December 7, 1999
Volume 4, Number 57

EDITORS’ NOTE: Thanks to all the readers who responded to our note
in yesterday’s Gazette. We appreciate the support, and continue to welcome
your comments.


1) Possible changes in College calendar discussed at Fireside Chat

2) World news roundup

3) Campus events


1) World sports roundup

2) Today’s and tomorrow’s contests


Today: Partly cloudy. High around 50.
    So you know that “festival of lights” stuff that they say about

Tonight: Cloudy. Lows in the mid 30s.
    Don’t believe a word of it. Chanukah is nothing but an excuse to eat
fried food. I should have thought about that when Sharples had the “fried
food bar” a few days ago and appreciated their thoughtfulness in preparing
ethnically significant food.

Tomorrow: Mostly sunny. Highs in the mid 50s.
    Like mozzarella sticks and onion rings.


1) Possible changes in College calendar discussed at Fireside Chat

Our fall arrival date, the placement of October Break, shortening May by a
week, and future graduation dates were among the topics discussed in a
roundtable discussion with Craig Williamson and Martin Warner. Williamson
is the Associate Provost and Curriculum Committee chair, while Warner is
the College Registrar. Also in attendance were Michael Spiegel ’03, and
Eve Manz ’01, the student representatives to the Curriculum Committee.

The Committee has been charged with addressing relevant issues regarding
our academic calendar, re-examining it, and presenting a recommendation to
the faculty. The current calendar was accepted in 1990 for a ten year
period, and is now under review.

The first issues addressed were those regarding the fall semester. The
current calendar attempts to synchronize our opening date as well as our
fall break with those of Bryn Mawr and Haverford. An average semester sees
about 35 Swarthmore students enrolled at classes at one of the other
schools, and about 65 BMC & HC students taking classes here. Currently,
fall break comes either 5 1/2 or 6 weeks into the semester, depending on
whether we start on a Monday or a Thursday (which is dependent on when
Labor Day falls). The question at hand is twofold:

1. Should our calendar’s start date coincide with that of BMC & HC,
meaning that in certain years classes would begin as early as August
29? This change might possibly allow for the expansion of the fall reading
period, but at this point it seems more likely that it would simply enable
us to end the fall semester a couple of days earlier.

2. If we move the start date up, it would ensure that October break
will always fall a full six weeks after the beginning of classes. There
are many, however who believe that putting fall break a week later on the
calendar would make more pedagogical sense. Proponents of a later fall
break point to increased time before midterms, and less of a gap between
the end of fall break and the end of the semester, a time which seems to
last forever for many. If fall break were to be so delayed, our break
schedule would no longer overlap with that of BMC & HC, which might
inconvenience students who cross-register at either college. However, the
proponents of a later fall break say that the benefits from overlapping
the schools’ break schedules aren’t enough to justify keeping an early
fall break.

Of perhaps greater concern than these issues is the question of what, if
anything, to do with May. There are some who believe that graduation
should be moved up a week–they say that it is unfair to make non-Honors
seniors sit around for a month with nothing to do. However, for Honors
students this time is quite valuable for preparing for their exams. The
Committee showed how the time seniors spend on campus after classes end
could potentially be shortened by one week. A plan under consideration
would shorten the Honors written exam period from nine days to five days
and the course exam period from nine to eight days, adding Sunday
afternoon exams in both cases. Cutting the Honors exam time would
accomplish the goal of earlier graduation, but would have the effect of
compressing the exam period, making it more like December, pressure-wise.

Part of the rationale is that when the current calendar was written up,
Honors students took eight written exams (for an eight-preparation
program), whereas now students only take four. Thus, nine days might have
been necessary then, but not anymore. Further, the written exams are
usually scheduled over the first seven or eight days of the nine-day
period, with off-days interspersed between the exams. The Committee
acknowledges the fact that students often have other projects aside from
their Honors work, but its members further state that the number of course
exams has decreased significantly over time, as more professors are opting
for a final paper rather than a scheduled exam.

Of important note is the official declaration that no change is proposed
for senior week. All of the changes discussed would take place in the week
immediately preceding senior week. The spring reading period would also go
unscathed. One final issue under discussion is the possible change of
graduation day from Monday to Sunday, so parents wouldn’t have to take off
from work on Monday. The move would also mean that baccalaureate, last
collection, and the Phi-Beta-Kappa induction ceremony would probably have
to be moved to Saturday, from Sunday.

All of the changes discussed Monday night are hypothetical. The
possibility exists that the College will maintain the current calendar, or
implement changes that have yet to be conceived. These issues will be
discussed further at a later date, and the faculty will vote on the
calendar sometime in April. The Curriculum Committee welcomes everyone’s
thoughts regarding these topics. Correspondence can be directed to Michael
Spiegel ’03.


2) World news roundup

NASA scientists had their last chance to try to contact the Mars Polar
Lander shortly after 3 a.m. this morning. After this final
high-probability communications window, the odds of finding the lander
will diminish greatly. …Prompted by a warning of a massive attack by
Russian troops, 20,000 to 30,000 Chechen refugees are fleeing Grozny. The
Russian military warned residents Monday that they will have five days to
leave the capital or face certain death. Those who remain will be viewed
as “terrorists and bandits” and will be “destroyed by artillery and
aviation. There will be no more talks….The countdown has started.” …A
bitter confrontation erupted yesterday between Israel and the Palestinians
over Jewish settlements, derailing month-old talks designed to seal a
final peace. The Palestinians announced that they would no longer
participate in negotiations aimed at setting terms of their hoped-for
statehood unless Prime Minister Ehud Barak halts a burst of new
construction of Jewish housing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The
dispute is nearly certain to embroil Madeleine Albright, who is visiting
the area to support the peace process but had hoped not to have to act
as a referee.  …A seventh-grader was arrested yesterday after he shot
four classmates in his Oklahoma school. None of the injuries appeared to
be life-threatening, and the student’s motives are unclear. “He doesn’t
even know who it was he shot,” sheriff’s Deputy Terry Cragg said. “There
was not a hate thing. I asked him why. He said, `I don’t know.”‘


3) Campus events

Physics and Astronomy Colloquium
DuPont 139, 4:00 p.m.

“Arnold Palmer and the Sacred Mountain Traditions of Southeast
Asia” Faculty Lecture by Don Swearer, Professor of Religion
Scheuer Room, 4:15 p.m.

Kwaanza Dinner
Bond Memorial Hall, 5:00 p.m.

Scottish Country Dance Class
Boyer Dance Studio, 6:05 p.m.

Swarthbucklers Fencing Practice
Upper Tarble, 7:30 p.m.

“Structure in the Garden: Landscape Elements for Year-Round Interest” by
Dan Hinkley, America’s Premier Plantsman
LPAC Cinema, 7:30 p.m.

Model UN Meeting
Trotter 301, 8:00 p.m.

Ballroom Practice
Upper Tarble, 9:30 p.m.

Student Council Meeting
Parrish Parlors East, 10:00 p.m.



1) World sports roundup

Pennington, Vick are among the finalists for the Heisman trophy; Warrick
is staying home. …Panthers’ Carruth posted a $3 million bond Monday
night, nearly 12 days after he was arrested on charges he plotted to kill
his pregnant girlfriend. …Boxer Stephan Johnson died yesterday of a
brain injury, after never regaining consciousness after an injury
in a Nov. 20 fight.


2) Today’s and tomorrow’s contests

Men’s basketball v. Washington College, 7:30 p.m.

Women’s basketball v. Washington College, 7:00 p.m.
Swimming v. NYU, 6:00 p.m.


Quote of the day:
“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit
with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s
relativity.” — Albert Einstein (who else?)


Interested in reporting or writing for the Gazette?
Just want to tell us what you think?

Contact the Editorial Board at

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E-mail gazette-news@student-publications.swarthmore.edu.

Editorial Board
    Jeff Heckelman
    Melanie Hirsch
    Claire Phillips-Thoryn

Staff Writers
    Ilya Leskov
    Alma Ortiz
    Jeremy Schifeling
    Kai Xu

Online Editor
    Lorrin Nelson

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This concludes today’s report.

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