Saturdays are not a snow day solution

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • February 16, 2017

At issue: Saturday makeup classes

Our take: It's the freakin' weekend. 
 

Among winter storm warnings, snow flurries turning to white outs, and howling winds and rumbling snow plows, once crowded streets and sidewalks become barren. This is a reality for many in Boston. Institutions across the city often cancel classes when weather gets too bad to ensure safe travel for students and staff. This hallmark wintertime cancellation is often celebrated by students, but administrators wrestle with how to make up for that lost time. In New England, snow days are an inevitable tradition. But what aren’t, and shouldn’t be, are Saturday classes.

Students are busy during the week in extracurriculars and classes, but the weekends are when they really have the chance to perfect the crafts they study. Performing arts majors need time to perform in student productions, journalists need time to cover events, and film students need to film the projects they are assigned during the week.

According to the Spacebook calendar, an online resource for students to book spaces on campus,  April 8 is already filled up with events. Police Geese has a comedy show, which Emerson scheduled for them; Noteworthy has practice; and men’s volleyball has a game. There is a student film shoot in the Multi Purpose Room, and an invitation E-Sport competition. In all likelihood, most student productions haven’t booked spaces for their April projects yet.

Saturdays are crucial at Emerson, and not only for the art forms they offer as fields of study. Many students are artists in other forms. Some are in bands, while others are on-air for WERS. These days are crucial for artistic growth.

We also can’t underplay the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Saturday is an important day of rest, even for those who don’t observe the Jewish Sabbath. The weekend might be the only opportunity for many professors (and some students) to spend extended quality time with their children and families. It’s a time for important life events—baptisms, bar mitzvahs, birthday parties. Who wants to have to skip class to go to their cousin’s wedding?

After five days of academic classes––and for many students, work, and extracurriculars on top of that––we look forward to having a break on Saturdays. Emerson frequently preaches mental health and self-care, but with Saturday classes, that’s not a possibility for many. Taking time to catch up on sleep, and even relaxation, is tantamount for student success. It is unfair to rob students of that.

Some professors don’t use the Saturday makeup class because it is inconvenient, so students are missing out on learning. We are paying for this class. If a professor decides to not hold class, that is money we are losing. We deserve to have the opportunity to make the most of our education.

For some, Saturdays aren’t a rest day. Students who have jobs rely on weekends work full shifts. When makeup classes are on Saturdays, working students are faced with a difficult choice: miss out on a chance to make money, or miss face time with their professors. According to a New York Times study, only 3.2 percent of of Emerson students are from the lowest family income quintile of $20,000. Weekend classes only make it harder for these students who already feel a divide with their peers.

To avoiding having makeup classes on Saturdays, we should extend the semester. Other colleges in Boston finish around a similar time as Emerson or later, but have a reading day or a week prior to exams. Boston University has a study period from May 4-7 and finish on May 12. Northeastern and Suffolk both have a reading day before their exam week, and finish on Apr. 28 and May 12, respectively. It would give us time to prepare for exams, and also eliminate the need for Saturday classes. As a school in New England, we can expect snow and the weather to impact our schedule. Emerson should prepare for this possibility without sacrificing our Saturday.