Working group examines proposed winter intersession

President Denise Battles introduced the establishment of a working group to potentially restore a winter intersession term at Geneseo. 

The president made the announcement on March 23 in an email sent to the campus community. In the email, the president outlined the goals of the intersessional working group, which includes various members of the college community. 

With Assistant Provost for Curriculum and Assessment Savi Iyer serving as the working group chair, other participants include associate professor for Francophone studies Kodjo Adabra, professor of education Katie Rommel-Esham, Assistant Vice President for Human Resources Julie Briggs, Assistant Provost for Budget and Facilities Enrico Johnson, adjunct lecturer in English and languages and literatures Wes Kennison, Director of Student Life Chip Matthews, Campus Auxiliary Services Executive Director Mark Scott and physics major sophomore Corey Wilkinson. 

With this collaborative and “transparent process,” the working group hopes to not only identify and to outline the possible positive and negative outcomes of reinstituting a winter intersession term at Geneseo, but also to provide potential solutions to mitigate those issues. In addition, the working group will examine the college’s academic calendar to assess the need for any required changes, as well as to look at any and all factors involved in approving this decision. 

The winter intersession term at Geneseo had previously been terminated in 2003, according to Wilkinson. The increasing need for a winter intersession term has prompted the college to reconsider this previous decision, according to Battles. 

There have been multiple considered benefits that would come as a result of reestablishing a winter intersession term, according to Matthews. 

“Having those two weeks to recover would be beneficial because it allows you that mental health and physical health break so that you can rest, you can do some leisure events, you can visit your family and friends, and you can come back to campus renewed and ready to hit the semester,” Matthews said. “Geneseo’s rigorous. It requires a lot of work, so a little bit of a break would be good.”

An intersession term would also serve to benefit students that remain on-campus during winter break, according to Wilkinson. 

“Right now, we already have students that are staying over winter break,” Wilkinson said. “There’s people like the athletes, international students, so they’re kind of here and they’re not doing anything.”

Students would also have the option to take additional courses during the intersession on campus, as well as to participate in study abroad programs.

Some of the challenges of a winter intersession include potential changes to the academic calendar. Additionally, student interest in the intersession would have an impact, along with the quality of the courses being offered over a shorter amount of time and the availability of professors to teach the courses. 

“If you’re going to provide a course, you’re going to need a time that still is rich, robust and still in keeping with other courses,” Matthews said. “We don’t want to have to do anything that would mean we’re offering less of a product just because it’s a little bit shorter.”

Student input has helped contribute to shaping some of these concerns and changes, according to Wilkinson. Students have had issues with how changing the academic calendar will impact clubs, Wilkinson said. Some students also believe, however, that an intersession has the potential to help them take general education requirements during this period and to take less credits during the fall and spring semester. 

The working group will continue to discuss these issues and to work to solve them throughout the rest of the spring semester, and the campus community can expect to be notified of the group’s findings during the middle of May, according to Battles. 

“I think it really is an opportunity to look at how we can utilize a time in between semesters to give another educational opportunity, whether that’s taking a course for a student or maybe a study abroad kind of thing,” Matthews said.