Thursday, November 6, 2014

Support our Troops: Don't Go to School

Supporting the troops and veterans with empty seats
I received an email today reminding me that Tuesday, Nov. 11, was Veterans' Day and that therefore there would be no classes.

Here is the real story.  Back in the day, UCLA and the other UC campuses did not close on Veterans' Day.  Veterans' Day floats around the week and disrupts class schedules.  Particularly when it falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday, it disrupts courses which are already short a day thanks to the longstanding closure on Thanksgiving.

During the reign of Gov. Gray Davis, someone wrote to the governor complaining that UC didn't close.  Davis - who otherwise likes to be remembered for his support of education - asked UC president Dynes to close and Dynes, not wanting to say no to the governor, complied.  There was no consultation with faculty about the impact on courses.  Did UC get a dime extra from the governor in gratitude for this move?  Doubtful. 

That isn't the whole story.  At least in UCLA, there were some discussions in Senate committees about the disruption and the idea surfaced of giving just the staff a day off but holding classes as scheduled.  It came to naught.  Most private employers, by the way, do not close on Veterans' Day.

Had there been some discussion, alternative options might have been considered ranging from politely declining the governor's request to the idea above or to scheduling a UC version of Veterans' Day that would be less disruptive.  Note that UC does precisely that on Chavez day, rescheduling the holiday during the period between the winter and spring quarters.  Winter quarter is already disrupted twice by Presidents' Day and ML King Day.

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