By Mari Fagel
College students in the D.C. area are taking advantage of the warm weather to sunbathe while studying. But for some, enjoying the days outside will be cut short to make up for missed classes during the blizzard.
With sweltering heat outside, it’s easy to forget only two months ago 40 inches of snow blanketed the city and left everything at a standstill for four straight days.
"I stayed inside a lot," says George Washington University sophomore Nelle Routecki.
Routecki and her peers were snowed in and shut out of classes. Now they’ll have to make up those missed classes over four days at the end of the month. But there's one problem: that’s reading week, a designated time to study for finals.
"We don’t have any time to really prepare for finals," says Routecki. "Hopefully I’ll do well, and hopefully they’ll put that into consideration."
Junior John D’Elia says he won’t risk his final grade, so he’s skipping make-up classes to study instead.
"There are so many different ways that you could make it up without punishing the students and taking away their ability to study for finals," he says.
And he convinced other students to pledge to do the same in a Facebook group he created to officially boycott make-up classes.
"After we got the make-up email, I actually created the Facebook group that night and within a few days we had over 500 members and within a week we had over 1,600 members," he says.
But GWU administrator Jeff Lenn says there were no other options. It is university policy to make up any missed classes, and he says making up classes over spring break would have drawn more criticism and extending the semester isn’t possible because commencement is already set in stone.
"Students have a right to voice their opinion," says Lenn, "there is no doubt about it. But I do think it is short-sighted because the reality is they are here for an education."
Catholic University will also make up classes over reading week, and Georgetown already did on President’s Day. But at American University, most students can spend their reading week actually studying because during the blizzard many professors continued class online.
"They could post discussion questions about their Powerpoint," says says Bill DeLone, the head of the Center for Teaching, Research and Learning at American. "They could engage and interact with students regarding the lecture and do a number of things that would basically simulate if you will what would have happened had they been in a face to face class."
Last summer, DeLone trained 300 faculty members to teach classes using the online learning tool Blackboard. He was worried classes would be canceled for another reason: a swine flu outbreak.
"Since we never really had the pandemic issue, this really gave faculty an opportunity to test something out and see that it works," he says.
And should Snowpocalypse 2011 hit, DeLone says AU professors will be ready once again.
Make-up Days for D.C.-area Universities:
•Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - Tuesday classes meet this day.
•Monday, April 5, 2010 - Easter Monday cancelled; Monday classes meet this day.
•Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - Reading day cancelled; Wednesday classes meet this day.
•Saturday, May 1, 2010 - Reading day cancelled; Thursday and Saturday classes meet this day.
•Monday, May 3, 2010 - Reading day cancelled; Monday classes meet this day; Last day of classes.
George Washington University:
•Make up day for February 8 will be held Tuesday, April 27
•Make up day for February 9 will be held Thursday, April 29
•Make up day for February 10 will be held Friday, April 30
•Make up day for February 11 will be Saturday, May 1
•Professors will schedule make-up days for their classes if necessary.
Anne Arundel Community College:
•Spring term extended one week to May 23.
Howard Community College:
•Spring semester extended a week to May 21.
The College of Southern Maryland:
•Spring semester extended a week to May 12
•Graduation activities rescheduled for May 19 and 20.
George Mason University:
•Make up day for February 9 will be held Tuesday May 4
•Make up day for February 10 will be held Wednesday May 5
•Make up day for February 11 will be held Thursday May 6
•Make up day for February 8 will be held Friday May 7