Students, some faculty like continuance of May Term

by Nicki Vanhoever

As finals wind down and books are sold back, most students look forward to the start of summer. However, for students at Simpson, the end of April just means it’s time to prepare for three more weeks of class, otherwise known as May Term.

James Palmieri, associate professor of economics, has traveled during May Term in the past and is preparing to take a trip to Italy for this year’s class.

“We are learning about Italian art, history and economic issues,” Palmieri said. “It’s a nice experience.”

Palmieri feels travel is an important aspect of May Term opportunities.

“I think there should be some aspect of travel or service learning required of at least one May Term,” Palmieri said.

Aside from travel, May Term allows students to take out-of-the-ordinary classes. A May Term class provides the professor and students with a whole new playing field.

“It is a short, focused term,” Palmieri said. “The greatest pro is that there is much greater freedom to experiment, to try new courses, to test new ideas. The greatest con is that it is more difficult to get students really energized, since they have already had two semesters of course work.”

This idea of getting students excited after two semesters of hard work may seem to be a problem, but it’s just the opposite for junior Ryan O’Lear.

“I think I’d consider myself pro-May Term,” O’Lear said. “It provides a great opportunity to not only learn something outside your major, but also to venture out into the nice weather and blow off some of the stress from finals week.”

O’Lear has been through two May Terms here at Simpson. During these terms, he has taken American Cinema and Issues in Sports and Society. O’Lear said he felt he gained knowledge and experience during both courses.

“During Sports and Society last May Term, we were given the opportunity to help with the Special Olympics,” O’Lear said. “It was a fun and rewarding experience, and a great way to give back to the community.”

Junior John Hook is a self-proclaimed supporter of May Term, but still wishes the school would bring back some of the more exciting classes.

“It sucks because they got rid of all the fun classes,” Hook said. “I wanted to take biking and fishing.”

O’Lear feels the same way.

“We could look into offering a wider variety of classes, preferably those of the outdoor nature,” O’Lear said.

O’Lear and Hook are also not big fans of early morning classes.

“No more of this eight in the morning stuff,” O’Lear said.

It’s true that at least half of the courses offered during May Term begin precisely at 8:30 a.m.

May Term used to be J-Term, with the three-week chunk of classes held in January instead of May. Buena Vista is one private school in Iowa that still has J-Term.

Here at Simpson, having the term during the month of May appears to be the more popular option.

“I would not like a January Term,” Palmieri said. “The options for travel are, in general, not as good.”

O’Lear had a similar reaction to the question of J-term, but for a different reason.

“J-term? I wouldn’t be a huge fan – it’s cold,” O’Lear said. “I suppose it would provide a great opportunity to offer a class on speed skating. I’d be all over that.”

According to Palmieri, May Term gives students a chance to do things they don’t normally get a chance to do, both in and out of the classroom.