by MEGAN DREHER & MARIA THOMAS, Editor-in-Chief & Asst. News Editor
Effective as of the Fall of 2019, Manhattan College will no longer proctor final exams on Saturdays for weekday classes. This year, only students who have Saturday classes will take final exams on the weekend. For all other students, final exams will be taken Monday through Friday.
In past years, it was common, and even expected, for students to have finals scheduled on Saturdays. This year, however, a new schedule has been put in place.
A great motivator for the recent change came from Manhattan College’s newly hired registrar, Carlos Tonche.
Tonche began working for the college in the fall semester of 2018. He claims he noticed early on that there was a general dislike of Saturday finals by students, many of whom considered the weekend finals to be inconvenient. He gathered this opinion by attending the Educational Affairs Committee (EAC) meetings.
“As someone who is relatively new, one of the things I’ve learned in my career is you want to respect the culture of the institution that you are going to. Rather than rush and implement this right away, we really had to think this through and make the best effort to minimize potential issues,” Tonche said.
After observing the culture of the college, Tonche believed that this decision would be favorable among students and faculty alike.
“I believe there was only enthusiasm for the change. In fact, part of the reminder for the request for the change came from the EAC. I had seen emails from faculty asking before, and students brought it up: ‘why do I have a Saturday exam when I have a Monday, Wednesday, Thursday class?’” said Tonche.
Nadia Itani, the current Vice President for Academic Affairs, was not heavily involved with the decision to move away from Saturday finals. But, since assuming her position and having more involvement with the EAC, she has also seen the positive response firsthand.
“So I wasn’t entirely involved in the logistics of creating the new final exam schedule but it was something discussed in the EAC last semester. I think it’s beneficial because most students want to get home or go on vacation as soon as possible and this leaves them with a more solid schedule to work with and make those post-finals plans. It also keeps the week from dragging on too long,” said Itani.
One of the biggest challenges in making this shift was creating a new formula to assign exam days to students based on class schedules.
Tonche said, “We tried different models, so it’s a trial and error. We obviously used data from the spring semester as a kind of guide. We eliminated a couple models that created too many conflicts. It’s all a mathematical equation in a way, because you have all of that, plus you have the student schedules that can change, so you make the best guess.”
Because of this mathematical equation, the new exam schedule is designed to avoid as many conflicts as possible. But, having one less day in the schedule causes an increase in the likelihood of overlapping exams. This concern is an important one for both Tonche and Dr. William Clyde, the Provost of the college and head of the EAC.
“If we took exams that were scheduled over six days and scheduled them over five days, the likelihood of having more than two in a day has increased, but the policy is still in place. More students may run into that, but they still have the right to go get it resolved, and they should do that,” Clyde said.
The policy that Clyde refers to gives students the right to make adjustments to their final exam schedule should there be a conflict.
According to the student handbook, this policy states, “If a student has more than two final examinations scheduled for the same day, he/she may ask the instructor(s) to arrange an alternate date.”
Both Tonche and Clyde agree that students should be aware of this policy, and are encouraged to act on it if necessary.
A second area of concern is with common exams, where multiple sections of the same subject sit at the same time for a final.
“Common exams are matters that can influence the outcome of the schedule. But, we just put the call out to faculty and gave them a deadline. Our goal this year is a bit earlier than previous years, but that’s in order to assess the impact that the common exams have on the classes. That’s the variable,” said Tonche.
Tonche said that they hope to have the common exam schedule publicized by the beginning of October.
Overall, the general response of no Saturday finals has been positive amongst the Manhattan community. While there are expected to be hiccups in the system, Tonche, Clyde, Itani, and the rest of the EAC hope the response will remain positive after implementation this December.
Tonche said, “I have no illusions that we’re going to have some growing pains this fall, but the whole idea is that we’re trying to get to a good outcome and hopefully if everyone pulls together, we will.”