Letter to the Editor: UC calendar changes

Dear Editor,

Your editorial of February 5, “Student input should be made on new changes to the UC Calendar,” contained several factual errors and unfounded assumptions.

Contrary to what you stated, the policy about which you wrote is not new. It was established in 2007.

The policy does not specifically direct campuses to move the calendar back a week, but rather requires appropriate adjustments be made to accommodate students with conflicts. The calendar review for 2014-15, and all other calendars, is done in consultation with all the campuses, the Academic Senate and the Office of the President. Many factors must be taken into account. The religious holiday conflict policy is only one of the considerations.

The Jewish holidays fall at a different time each year because they follow a lunar calendar and this is the first time this specific conflict has arisen. It is not accurate to say, “The change only affects the calendar once every few years and adds a week to summer break and removes a week from winter break.” This is the first time the calendar has been adjusted this way and it is due to the specific dates of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah in 2014 and conflicts with move-in week activities. This specific conflict is not scheduled to happen again until 2020.

The Religious Holiday Conflicts policy is not a regents’ policy. It is a University policy. No regents were involved in the writing or implementation of this policy.

The Los Angeles Times story does not report that the semester campuses will not be included in the policy. It says that semester campuses will not be affected by the calendar shift. The policy applies to all 10 campuses in the UC system.

In 2009, UC Berkeley and UC Merced made adjustments to the calendar in observance of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. That same year, the quarter campuses made adjustments for Rosh Hashanah and the Muslim holiday Eid-al-Fitr.

As has been widely reported, there are three specific reasons why pushing the start of Winter Quarter back one week is not a viable option.

  • Starting later would place the Cesar Chavez holiday during finals week, which cannot be shortened, nor can the number of days of instruction be shortened.
  • Starting the 2015 Winter Quarter later would push the start of the 2015 Fall Quarter later into October, which would cause the same winter break problem the following year.
  • Changing the approved and published 2014-15 academic calendar would disrupt already booked conferences (with contractual obligations), travel plans, and family events.

 

We are sensitive to the concerns raised by students, but will continue to abide by the policy as written.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brooke Converse

Media Relations Specialist

University of California Office of the President

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