Michelle Marchante/ News Director
UPDATE 9/27/17: The new post-Irma academic calendar for Fall 2017-2018 & mini-term can be found here. You can find the original article below:
The University is expected to extend its fall semester because of Hurricane Irma by an additional week to make up for lost time, said the provost.
Unlike the other state universities, which resumed classes on Thursday, Sept. 14, FIU missed nine “instructional” days because of the threat Irma posed to South Florida, Provost Kenneth Furton said to Panther Magazine.
FIU, he said, was unable to open earlier because of Irma’s aftermath which included hazardous roads, lack of electricity and even damage to university facilities, such as Biscayne Bay’s Bayview apartments.
This makes FIU the most affected state university by Hurricane Irma after Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Furton said, which resumed classes two days after FIU on Wednesday, Sept. 20, and is expected to extend its classes by two additional weeks.
Finals week for FIU will now begin on Monday, Dec. 11 with commencement ceremonies taking place on Friday, Dec. 15 through Sunday, Dec. 17, stated an email sent by External Relations.
Despite looking at different alternatives, such as moving classes to FIU Online, it was decided during a discussion with the Faculty Senate, the Student Government Association and the United Faculty of Florida-FIU that extending the semester would be the best way to ensure student success in the classroom, said Furton.
“By adding another week, we can push back all deadlines, including due dates for assignments by one week so that’s really the most straightforward approach that we think will give our students the best chance to successfully master the material and do well in their classes,” Furton said.
The new schedule currently overlaps with Hanukkah but the school, according to Furton, is working on creating accommodations for those who observe the holiday and is also trying to accommodate any faculty, staff or student that already have travel, graduation or study abroad plans to “minimize impact.” These accommodations, he said, might include an earlier final exam date for the student.
The University is still deciding on the schedule for law students and is also working on relocating specific classes, such as those whose rooms are being used for the Monroe County evacuees at PG6. Furton is also asking faculty and staff to update their syllabi and postpone recent due dates and assignments to give students the opportunity to settle back into campus.
And while the new academic schedule hasn’t been finalized yet, according to Furton, it’s likely that winter break and the winter mini-term will be shortened so the spring semester can begin on schedule.
Miguel-Angel Miguel, a graduating senior majoring in advertising, wasn’t expecting FIU to extend the semester, but isn’t bothered by the decision.
“They have to do what they have to do,” Miguel said. “We live in South Florida, so that’s something [hurricanes] that comes along with it. So as long as we get to finish our classes, it’s fine by me. One more week won’t kill us.”
Unlike Miguel, Jesus Gamazo, a senior majoring in biology, wasn’t surprised with the decision to extend classes.
“This has happened before with other hurricanes,” Gamazo said. “It hasn’t happened in a while because we haven’t had any big hurricanes, but it has happened before to other people.”
And while Gamazo and Miguel recognize students might be bothered with a shorter winter break, they think it’s a better alternative compared to having classes cram the workload like a summer class.
Furton thinks so too.
Faculty and staff, he said, should avoid “accelerating” their classes as it tends to harms student success.
“[W]hen you condense the material to a shorter time frame, we know in some cases, can impact the successes of the students and in other incidents where there have been weather events or other events that have shortened the semester we’ve typically seen lower success rates, particularly in those [students] who are more affected,” Furton said. “That’s why we made the decision to extend the term rather than accelerate the material.”
Knowing that professors shouldn’t be running their classes at a “fast-pace” like in the summer has calmed Jelisa O’Connor down.
A junior majoring in chemistry, O’Connor said the brisk summer pace is not the best way for her to learn and is glad the university has chosen to extend the classes instead, even if it means a shorter winter break.
FIU’s decision, O’Connor said, has also made her feel better about the money she’s spent on FIU.
“I pay out of pocket, so I see my education as money I’m spending. So it was either that or cut a whole bunch of curriculum out,” O’Connor said.
Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons. can be found at: https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-calendar-close-up-composition-273011/