Column: It may not seem like a big deal, but the working student has only two options next month: lose money or lose a day of class. Take your pick.

It may not seem like a big deal, but the working student has only two options next month: lose money or lose a day of class. Take your pick.

On March 26, classes between 9:15 a.m. and 2:40 p.m. will be canceled to free up time for President Joseph Aoun’s official inauguration ceremony. However, because we’ve had so many Mondays canceled this semester, classes that Friday, March 30 will be canceled and instead students will attend the classes they missed Monday. Dazzling, eh?

Well, it’s not too confusing to be doable – it does make sense in some skewed way. However, it certainly makes life rough for students who rely on jobs.

A fair number of students can’t afford to miss a day’s work just because their school schedule is flip-flopped around, yours truely included. And from the looks of it, most of those students will skip class that Friday to attend jobs — putting them in an unfair bind.

Take senior graphic design major Emily Titcomb, for instance. She landed a pretty sweet gig at her last co-op, and they wanted to bring her on full-time. But first, she has this one last semester to complete. So for now, she works the two days she has open in her Monday to Friday schedule: Wednesdays and Fridays. She needs to make a good impression, and can’t skip work for the one class she’s missing on Monday.

“I can’t afford to miss a full eight hours of work for an hour and a half class,” Titcomb said. “I have to stay connected.”

Not that missing one day of work would be the end of the world, but neither would missing a day of class. It’s just ridiculous that we have to choose.

If the school is so concerned we’re missing too many of those Monday classes, it begs a larger question: Why does the president have to be inaugurated on a Monday? Wouldn’t it be easier to maintain the status quo if this thing was going down on a Friday?

MJ Paradiso, Student Government Association vice president for academic affairs, said it appears to be an oversight by the committee planning this grand affair.

“They picked the dates, booked Matthews [Arena], sent out invitations for keynote speakers and then they realized that it was going to be a fourth Monday off school,” he said. “At that point, I believe it had gotten past the point of no return and they had to act to try and accommodate students so they could come, as well.”

There are other reasons, too. More professors are on campus on Mondays than Fridays, and since it extends a weekend, a whole gaggle of alumni can give this inauguration a healthy-sized crowd (though it seems reasonable we can count on the ceremony being fairly devoid of the common student).

Linda Allen, the university’s registrar who headed up the planning committee, said the conflict arose after the group confirmed two speakers for the date without realizing it would amount to a missed Monday. The reaction was naturally to minimize the harm, and change the school schedule. However, playing with the schedule in this fashion really isn’t that unprecedented, she said.

“We used to do it quite a bit here when we were in the quarter world,” she said, referring to the class system that preceded semesters before the switch in 2003.

In those cases, there was plenty of advanced warning, she said. In the same vein, Paradiso said after some of his fellow senators called for resolutions to reverse the plans, he had a different idea.

“I said, ‘Let’s be proactive to make sure students’ needs are accommodated and the first thing that needs to happen is people need to know about this event,'” Paradiso said. “I told the Provost that it needed to be on every campus screen and myNEU and two days later it was up.”

Allen said she thinks students were fairly warned and most should be able to work it out with their employers or professors. Also, there is no school-wide plan to allow for work to be an excused absence; that power lies with the individual professors, she said.

Now, the ball is in the students’ court. Anyone with a conflict must talk to their professors and work it out, both Paradiso and Allen said.

“The faculty needs to be flexible,” Paradiso said. “If you tell your professor, ‘I really can’t get out of work,’ they understand why it was done this way and they’re reasonable people. I would urge any student who feels concerned to talk to their professors.”

In the end, this is the situation we find ourselves in. It’s a minor pain in the grand scheme of things, but a pain nonetheless.

After being excluded from making a decision about whether to have our schedule tampered with, the working student now is forced to face a decision. Some people may just skip class. Those who attend may have to pick up a few extra hours to get paid to meet rent that month.

This is where we finally get a choice. Choose wisely.

-Glenn Yoder can be reached at [email protected]

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