By Fruma Landa and Shoshanah Marcus
*This article has been updated to include a response from Dr. Timothy Stevens.
Though the Yeshiva University administration has yet to announce the school’s class formatting plans for the upcoming academic year, the registrar’s release of the 2021-2022 academic calendar may offer insight into potential class formatting and important deadlines.
After a year of various options of class formats due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 regulations, the 2021-2022 academic calendar reveals “Remote Instruction” periods. These periods include between the holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur/Sukkot, after Sukkot break, after Purim break, and before Pesach break. “During these remote days there will be no in-person classes,” shared University Registrar Jennifer Spiegel.
The overt mention of a remote instruction period may suggest that Yeshiva University is planning on an in-person or blended class format for the non-specified weeks. This has yet to be confirmed by the YU administration. Spiegel explained to the YU Observer that “[YU] added in remote instruction days in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to allow [their] students the opportunity to travel for the chaggim [Jewish Holidays] and still meet the minimum required instructional minutes without making the Fall and Spring semesters longer.”
Early Date to Drop Course Without a “W”
Another notable aspect of the 2021-2022 academic calendar is the fact that the last day to drop a course without a “W” (withdrawal) on one’s transcript for the Fall 2021 semester is October 18 and February 28 for the Spring 2022 semester. This is much earlier than previous semesters with the deadline for the Fall 2020 semester being on November 17, the Spring 2021 semester being April 7, the Fall 2019 semester being on December 2, 2019 and the Spring 2020 being April 23. Spiegel stated that “The Withdrawal date was moved up as part of a previously planned change to the 2020-21 academic calendar but was delayed due to COVID.” She concluded that the “withdrawal deadlines are now in line and consistent with [Yeshiva University’s] peer institutions’ academic calendars.
In the previous semester, the administration faced backlash from the student body when the deadline for dropping a class without a “W” was too early. In response, the decision was revoked. One student, Sarah Brill (SCW ‘21), shared her concerns with the YU Observer explaining that, “[d]ropping classes is a very tough decision to make. A person needs to choose whether or not to postpone a class or continue with the grade they have. With the drop date being as early as it is, students are not given the opportunity to get a sense of the class properly. For science classes, in particular, the second midterm test comes after the drop date has passed, creating anxiety for students to either drop the class with a possibly mediocre grade or continue and risk their grades and GPA.”
Reduced Reading Days in Spring 2022
Spiegel shared: “We are introducing study days instead of reading week this year in preparation for finals. These days are completely non-instructional and allow students to prepare for their upcoming finals. This change allows our calendar to meet the required number of instructional hours as well as maximizing the full content of courses and also does not impact scheduled breaks in the semester.”
According to the 2021-2022 academic calendar, the Fall 2021 semester will have four study days, one of them being on a Friday. The Spring 2022 semester will only have three study days prior to final exams with one of the days being on a Sunday. This is different from previous years, which have usually had a week of reading days prior to final exams.
“We, the student leaders, worked hard with the registrar to find a solution that would be best for the student body within the requirements they had to meet,” shared SCWSC President Shira Schneider. “We hope they and the administration continue working with us to ensure that these transitions are smooth and that the students feel prepared.”
Yeshiva University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. According to YU Accreditation Liaison Officer Dr. Timothy Stevens, “All higher education institutions that provide Federal financial aid are required to comply with the Federal credit hour rule, stipulating at least 750 minutes of instruction and 1500 minutes of student preparation for each credit hour awarded (the calculations are different for labs, clinical courses, and such experiences as internships). Middle States is charged by the Federal government with ensuring that its accredited institutions comply with that rule, and YU class schedules provide evidence that YU fulfills its obligation to provide sufficient instruction in its courses,” he concluded. YU’s accreditation was last affirmed in 2014 and YU is scheduled for a self-study evaluation in 2023-2024. The YU Observer has not confirmed that the upcoming evaluation impacted the 2021-2022 academic calendar adjustments.