After Superstorm Sandy cancelled a week’s worth of classes, there was no indication from any of the colleges where I teach that we would be making up classes. But over the last two days, CUNY and Fordham have quietly announced that they will be extending the semester in order to make up the loss days of instruction.
This is the right thing to do. If it is possible to add a few days of classes at the expense of an already long final exam period, then so be it. My Electronic Media class at Fordham was already short enough. Due to some puzzling scheduling, we ended up with only thirteen scheduled weeks of instruction, instead of the customary fourteen, and we would have been down to twelve with last weeks’ cancellation. This will give us the opportunity to cover digital media over two weeks instead of one, as I had to consolidate the two weeks’ worth of material after Sandy wreaked its havoc.
At CUNY, my New Technologies class has been interrupted throughout the entire semester. Although we started in late August, we have met on consecutive Mondays only once: September 24 and October 1. The interruptions have been due to Labor Day (September 3), Rosh Hashanah (September 17), Columbus Day (October 8), and now Superstorm Sandy (October 29). If we add another week at the end of the semester, I can cover the book I dropped from our schedule: Evgeny Morozov’s The Net Delusion, a book students have already bought and can learn a great deal about critizing techno-humanitarianism.
My only peeve about the recent decision to make up the cancelled courses is that they came a little late. I had already condensed my syllabi last week when it became clear that we would not start classes until the Monday after the storm. With the delayed decisions and announcements, I will have revised each of my syllabi three times in the past week. And each time announced to my students of the revisions.
There has been a lot of back-and-forth decisions over the last week over how to handle the unprecedented cancellations. For example, Fordham had announced that classes would resume on Thursday, November 1, but then quickly rescinded that decision and postponed the reopening of its New York City campuses to Monday, November 5. I presume that it did so after fully considering the challenges students, staff and faculty would have with transportation. Similarly, Pratt had cancelled today’s midterm break but then reinstated it after considering the importance of the presidential election.