Students and professors may no longer have to labor on Labor Day, if the Faculty Senate has its way. The senate voted April 8 to cancel classes on the holiday, celebrated the first Monday in September.
Provost Kent Fuchs must approve the change to the academic calendar in order for it to become university policy.
Faculty cited several reasons for the move, said Georg Hoffstaetter, chair of the university's educational policy committee and a physics professor. Those with small children said they have found child care difficult to secure on Labor Day. Others reported problems running classes smoothly without the support of staff, who have the day off, said Hoffstaetter. "Labor Day is early in the semester, so some faculty see start-up problems and really need support staff."
Moreover, ILR faculty pointed out that the holiday has historic significance in New York state. Labor Day originated in New York City in 1882, when the Central Labor Union sought to create a day off for working citizens.
The senate vote was prompted by an administration proposal that the six days of orientation be shortened to five. Sarah Jones, assistant dean of students, said that improved technology now enables orientation work to get done in a compressed time frame. That proposal prompted faculty to vote to cancel one day of fall semester classes, to maintain the academic calendar's equilibrium.
The senate first voted on a resolution to take off the day before Thanksgiving; it was voted down by approximately two-thirds of the senators, Hoffstaetter said. The senate then voted on a resolution to take off Labor Day, which passed with an overwhelming majority.