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Fall 2012 Schedule to Feature Month-Long Vacation

Amid rampant speculation and ensuing controversy surrounding the revamped academic curriculum, it appears that the Yeshiva University facelift has only just begun. Earlier this month, the Office of the Registrar officially released the Fall 2012 academic calendar. While most of the calendar remains fundamentally similar to those of previous years, one major change will take effect next semester. Fall vacation will extend straight from before Rosh Hashanah through the end of Sukkot, offering students a staggering four weeks of break for the holidays.

While it may be assumed that the new schedule was created by whim, the Academic Calendar Committee ensures that ample time is distributed for events, exams, and most importantly, vacations. The committee consists of a diverse group of deans and faculty members from various departments and schools in order to ensure that the final product accommodates everyone equally. Participants include Dean Fred Sugarman, Associate Dean of YC; Dean Ethel Orlian, Associate Dean of Stern; Claire Zakheim, Academic Advisor of Syms; and Rabbi Chaim Bronstein, Administrator of RIETS. Under the leadership of recently hired Interim University Registrar Diana Benmergui, the committee has churned out semester schedules more efficiently than in previous years.

Benmergui told The Commentator that the committee unanimously agreed on the change, which allows students from out of town to go home for Rosh Hashanah without having to return immediately afterwards. She noted that the Jewish calendar for the upcoming year would only yield two full academic days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which led to the concern that many students would not return in the interim.

There is one caveat, however. In order to maintain accreditation, Yeshiva University must hold classes 15 times a semester for each day of the week, excluding orientation. In order not to impede on winter vacation, the university will be holding classes on Sunday, September 23, thereby keeping to the 15-Sunday minimum. Though the calendar is subject to change, this is currently the only day of classes between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Fearing a shoddy turnout, the school will be hosting special programming during the week of Aseret Yemei Teshuva to encourage attendance.

In addition, Orientation will be starting a week earlier than last year and will extend from Wednesday, August 22 through Sunday, August 26. Dean Sugarman commented that starting Orientation on a weekday affords the opportunity for a more genuine orientation, noting that in previous years, when orientation began on Sunday, a “check in, pack out” move was commonplace. The “Orientation Shabbat” is an experiment the school will employ this coming semester in an effort to ease the transition into campus living for first-time-on-campus students while allowing them to bond with fellow members of their incoming class.

Response to this plan has been overwhelmingly positive, according to members of the Academic Calendar Committee. While faculty approval was necessary to bring the idea into fruition, the new schedule has garnered widespread support from the student body as well. Sam Cohen (YC ’13) suggested that the vacation allows students to “catch up and maybe even get ahead” in more demanding courses. Cohen added that the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur gives students sufficient flexibility to complete assignments in a timely manner while simultaneously enabling them to celebrate the holidays properly.

David Goldrich (YC ’15) was pleased with the revisions, but hopes the committee will consider tweaking the university’s relatively short January vacation in the near future. “Ideally, I would take the bare minimum for travel days and chagim and use those extra days to extend winter break. This is an improvement, but not necessarily the improvement I would choose.”