Starting in the 2025-26 school year, the University’s January Term will move to the new May Term. This change – approved by the Board of Trustees in May – which students and faculty members have protested in the past, has not been formally announced to students and faculty.
The change is part of last year’s Future Forward Thriving Leos project that had four different working groups made up of administration, faculty, staff and students focused on specific areas at the University like academic and student affairs.
Interim Provost Roy Kwon said this switch will align the University academic calendar with other private universities and allow students to work and seek internship opportunities because the spring semester would begin closer to the beginning of January and end the last week of April or early May.
“Many internships want students to apply and to begin in May so by changing our Jan Term and moving into an optional May Term, those students who do not select to take the May Term, they can begin internships so it makes them a little more competitive,” said Shannon Capaldi, assistant vice president of strategy and implementation.
Paul Alvarez, faculty senate president and professor of kinesiology, said one of the reasons why students were against the switch in the past was because the University was considering charging for May Term.
Currently, undergraduate students are not charged for January Term as long as they are full-time students and enrolled for the spring semester. Graduate students who decide to take a course during January Term are charged. This will be the same once the switch to May Term is made.
“We shouldn’t be charging students for that May Term, and that’s why we decided to not charge,” Kwon said. “Grad students never received that. Jan Term that was only for undergraduates, so that will still remain for graduate students.”
Isela Chavez, ASULV president and senior legal studies and French major, said that to her understanding the switch was still in discussion, and she has brought up concerns regarding the switch and student well-being like burnout to the Board of Trustees and to the president’s cabinet.
“ASULV has asked administration, as well as the president’s cabinet, to be a part of the discussion with regard to the implementation process,” Chavez said.
Kwon said that logistics are still being discussed.
“If administration doesn’t even go to ASULV and say ‘Hey, what do you think?’ then there’s no opportunity for feedback and certainly not any opportunities for engagement,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said the last time this topic was proposed, ASULV had a large impact on the decision because they created a survey for undergraduate students to voice their opinion. He said their response contributed to the decision not to move January term.
Jay Jones, emeritus professor of biology and biochemistry, who was passionate about this topic in the past, said the majority of faculty and students were not supportive of switching January Term in the past because it allowed them to focus on other endeavors and reorient themselves for the new semester.
“They really look at that January time as a time within the academic year where they can focus on research or travel,” Jones said. “Students need an extended break to come back more eager, and faculty need the same.”
Alvarez said the administration will need to speak to the Undergraduate Academic Policies Committee along with the graduate council to see if the decision is okay with them.
“My candid assessment is that, ‘Hey, we’ve already done this, you guys just put your rubber stamp on it,’” Alvarez said. “We have to consider some practical matters, including programming of academic programs, because if a program has to do a complete rewrite of its curricula sequencing, that’s a big deal.”
Kwon said faculty would be consulted regarding the new January start date for spring semester.
Alvarez said convenience should not be the only reason the University does something and that decisions need to be right for everybody, especially for faculty and students.
“Sometimes we may not agree with that final decision, but if we agree that it is doable, and it’s in the best interest of the institution, which obviously includes the students, then, we might have to suck it up and do it,” Alvarez said.
Samira Felix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.