Classes Go On, Despite Holiday

The term “school holiday” has lost some of its meaning for the many Harvard students that trudged to class this Veterans Day.

Seminars and sections including those for Chemistry 5, Biological Sciences 29, Dramatic Arts 23, Moral Reasoning 45 and several tutorials held their scheduled meetings yesterday despite the holiday.

“It was unusual having section at the 11th hour of the 11th day of November,” Alyssa S. King ’08 said today after her section for Historical Studies B-61, “The Warren Court and the Pursuit of Justice.”

King recalled always reserving 11 a.m. on Veterans Day for a period of reflection during high school.

Students and professors cited difficulty rescheduling meetings as the key reason for holding them despite the holiday.

“I’m not angry about it,” Alissa M. Gordon ’06 said of her junior History and Literature tutorial meeting. “I think it would be more of a pain to juggle around everyone’s schedules to find a new spot.”

Goverment 90a Professor James E. Alt said he was frustrated that so many school holidays—including Veterans Day and Thanksgiving—fall on Thursday this year, disrupting his weekly seminars.

“There is something screwy about the calendar this year,” Alt said. “Having to re-timetable two meetings is really bad.”

Alt held a ballot vote during class last week to give students the chance to reschedule. Many other instructors also allowed students to arrange different sections or attend classes given by different teaching fellows.

Despite the holiday, Alt’s students chose the same section time, and all but one of them were present.

But some sections were less well-attended. Kelly S. Johnson said that less than half of his students showed up to Moral Reasoning 54 section yesterday.

“There are few enough holidays as it is, but making sure students touch base with the material is my overriding concern,” Johnson said.

Instructors cannot simply cancel their section because they will fall behind other sections that do not conflict with the holiday, Johnson said.

He added that though his father is a World War II veteran, the “clumsy” midweek placement of the holiday alleviated his reservations about holding class yesterday.

“Our position has been that we never stand in the way of faculty meeting with students to discuss course material, so it is perfectly fine for cou rses to meet on holidays,” said Professor Jeffrey Wolcowitz, who teaches Economics 1010a.

Echoing the Havard Handbook, Wolcowitz noted that students have no obligation to attend these additional sessions.

Many other college campuses in the greater Boston area also proceeded with school despite Veterans Day. Tufts, Boston College, and Wellesley were in session yesterday, though Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology cancelled class.

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