New multicultural holidays may add extra class time to future semesters


Vice President of Student Services Ross Miyashiro speaks about the upcoming calendar proposal at the Tuesday, Nov. 15, Academic Senate meeting in Distance Education Room 166. Miyashiro is one of the chairs on the Calendar Committee for the Academic Senate. (Ethan Cohen | The Union)

In an attempt to observe more multicultural holidays, the Academic Senate is in the midst of settling the debate over adding extra days to future semesters.

The discussion, which took place during an Academic Senate meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15, debates the proposal of adding Indigenous People’s Day, Cesar Chavez Day and Juneteenth as holidays during the 2024-2025 academic year and continue thereon after.

The proposal was first put to a vote by the Academic Senate in Dec. 2021 and has been a recurring topic of debate at various campus committee meetings.

The hurdle for the Academic Senate and the delegated body of the Calendar Committee is the required course hours for classes taken during the academic semester.

“The biggest discussion point in the last five years of the Calendar Committee is why all of our vacation holidays always land on Mondays,” Vice President of Student Services Ross Miyashiro said during the meeting.

Miyashiro said that the biggest impact would be Monday-only classes and specifically those in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM fields.

“We don’t want to shortchange students, so we need to create more faculty-student contact time by either adding hours or days,” Miyashiro said. “By adding days, we mean three hours in one day or out of that six [course] meetings, 10 to 20 minutes each medium.”

However, it should be noted that this only affects short-term and Monday-only classes as the normal 16-week semester already account for the addition of Monday holidays.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Carlos Lopez speaks with math professor Lars Kjeseth at the Academic Senate meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15. Kjeseth was vocal about the impact less lab time would have for his students. (Ethan Cohen | The Union)

Vice President of Academic Affairs Carlos Lopez told The Union that the addition of extra holidays to the academic calendar would be “a little bit tricky” because it involves changing the calendar to fit the needs of course time requirements.

“Those holidays take out instructional time,” Lopez said. “If we have a 16-week semester like we have here at El Camino, and we have Monday-only classes that are scheduled for the full term [including] two Monday holidays, that class only gets to meet 14 times.”

Lopez, however, is not a proponent of adding little time to the end of every Monday class due to the potential of students missing whole lab sessions.

“Losing a single day can have a major impact on classes and therefore cause us to add time to [the rest of the available sessions],” Lopez said.

President of the Academic Senate and biology professor Darcie McClelland said that the biggest impact would be on lab classes because adding an extra 10 minutes at the end of every class does not benefit the students or the faculty.

“I teach labs and each lab is an entire section, that takes three hours,” McClelland said. “So giving me an extra 10 minutes spread apart by multiple weeks doesn’t really help me get that lab in. I would absolutely need another class period to be able to teach that last lab or I would just have to teach less curriculum.”

Academic Senate President Darcie McClelland asks members of the senate if they would rather add extra time to every session or add an extra Monday to instruction. McClelland believes that only adding an extra 10 minutes to each lab would result in her having to teach less curriculum. (Ethan Cohen | The Union)

McClelland said that adding these holidays to the calendar is important and that no one on the Academic Senate is disputing that idea.

However, McClelland believes that the major concern is ensuring students have enough time in the classroom to move on to the next level.

“Every time you put in a holiday, that’s less hours that we are teaching our students so there’s just this concern and making sure that we have the time that we need to be able to give our students what they need to be successful going forward,” McClelland said.