Saturday finals scheduled for financial aid

This fall, the University will join a small portion of the Big Ten schools that schedule Saturday finals.

The other schools in the Big Ten that hold exams on Saturday are the University of Wisconsin, the University of Minnesota and Purdue University.

“Ideally, especially for those who have to travel, it might not be ideal,” said Jordan Derbas, senior in LAS. “I mean, traveling over the weekend is going to be more expensive than traveling over the week. I do know other Big Ten schools have finals on Saturdays, so I don’t think it’s too big of an issue, especially if it’s for a reason that’s financial aide.”

Larry Lockwood, assistant provost for enrollment services in the Office of the Registrar at the University of Iowa, said the university recently revised its finals schedule and the committee considered scheduling finals on Saturday as an option. The ultimate decision, however, uses only Monday through Friday for exams, as well as the previous Sunday evening for conflicts if requested by a professor.

On Nov. 7, the Urbana-Champaign Senate approved an action by voice-vote that compresses finals week for the Fall 2012 semester by scheduling final exams on Saturday, Dec. 15. This decision was announced by the University to students via email last week. Finals will end on Thursday, Dec. 20.

“I think it’s kind of an inconsistent move, because it’s going to force some students to have a shorter exam week, and their exams are closer together,” said Eitan Barlaz, graduate student.

Gay Miller, professor and chair of the senate’s Committee on Educational Policy, said in an email that the final decision involved student input throughout the entire process.

Miller said the change to the calendar stemmed from the need to meet the Federal Financial Aid disbursement deadline. Leaving the calendar as was could have prevented students from receiving their financial aid “in a timely fashion,” she said.

While not changing the calendar would have affected students who receive financial aid, the decision to change the calendar affects a wide range of people.

“This solution shares the burden among students, faculty and campus administrators,” according to the approved proposal.

Faculty, for example, have one less day to grade exams and calculate final grades for students. According to the proposal, “faculty can plan their syllabi accordingly” regarding the impacts of this schedule change, as they have received advanced notice.

The addition of Saturday finals will also affect Jewish students who observe the sabbath, which goes from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown. These students are allowed to request a conflict exam because of religious observance.

This is not the first time the University has scheduled Saturday finals, Miller said. She added that the committee does not expect this schedule to be a regular occurrence in the University calendar. However, according to the academic senate meeting minutes, this solution is also considered a trial for future time compressions in the calendar.