May Term’s future still undecided

by Shara Tibken

The Calendar Task Force will soon complete its study on the future of May Term and present its recommendations to the college.

“We are nearing the final stages,” said Bruce Sloan, professor of mathematics and chair of the task force. “We’ll be making a report to the academic dean [Bruce Haddox] by the first week of March.”

The possibilities for the new calendar have been narrowed down to two options, but those won’t be made public until later in the semester.

“They’re just proposals, so nothing is set in stone,” said Andy Merrill, senior and student body vice president. “It’s what our committee is just kind of looking for. We could present this … and it could get completely denied and shut down.”

According to Merrill, one of the options is very different from what Simpson currently has and the other option just slightly alters May Term.

“There’s one that actually allows for more travel and more opportunities, but it’s more focused on faculty load,” Merrill said. “Most places don’t do a May Term type of thing, so they’re just trying to make it better for faculty.”

A third option is to keep May Term as it is now, but this isn’t currently one of the Calendar Task Force’s suggestions. It may become a suggestion though, which is why the committee is waiting to make its recommendations public.

“There’s always one more option than what we might present, and that is deciding to maintain things just as they are right now,” Sloan said.

One option the task force was looking at was making May Term partially optional, Merrill said in a December interview.

Although none of details for this option were finalized at the time, it was suggested students would have to participate in May Term for two terms, and they’d have the option of whether or not to participate for the remaining May Terms.

“We’ve talked about … possibly requiring students to only do … two times of May Term,” Merrill said in December. “May Term would be optional a couple years or so.”

Merrill said this option would benefit seniors the most.

“Seniors, for example, may not be able to get out into the workforce as early [if they have to participate in May Term],” Merrill said in December.

Some students are worried about losing opportunities to travel or do internships if Simpson cuts May Term from the calendar.

“May Term is the reason I came to Simpson,” junior Kaela Phillips said. “I think that if the college gets rid of May Term entirely, then Simpson will lose a lot of current and prospective students.”

The committee said even if the calendar is changed to a two-semester year, students will still have travel and internship options.

“We’re not thinking about doing away with the things that are good in the present system, such as travel,” Haddox said. “We would keep those no matter what. That’s a given. We would lose a few things if we changed, but we would gain a few things too.”

Though some students don’t want to see a calendar change, it’s likely to happen.

“We’ll change some things no matter what,” Haddox said. “I think any change is for the better in our situation. To keep doing this exactly the way we’re doing now without any change would not be acceptable.”

Haddox said any changes won’t be made immediately.

“It always takes a few years to change the calendar,” Haddox said. “It might affect the incoming class and might affect the freshmen for one year. It’s hard to tell.”

The final decision will possibly be reached during the next school year.

“My intent is that sometime in the next 12 months … the faculty will start looking at those two options and see what they want to do,” Haddox said. “We’re not rushing through anything. A calendar decision, whether you’re changing the calendar or keeping it the same, has many ramifications.”