Let’s just get it out in the open. We all wish more classes were cancelled during Summit.
With the prestigious lectureship in our rearview mirrors and the rest of the semester ahead of us, we all could have used the change of pace offered by substituting our regular classes with the classes and conversations Summit offers.
And yet, classes still go on as usual, homework keeps piling up and tests continue to keep us up all night. In fact, many students have claimed this to be their busiest week of the semester. Even during Summit, there’s no rest for the weary.
So who is Summit intended for? Some might say that it’s intended more for visitors than for students. It’s very apparent by the amount of alumni and families that flock to our university every year that Summit has a special place in their hearts. But it’s important to note it has a special place in the hearts of students as well.
If Summit isn’t intended for ACU students, a change of venue may be in order. We love having Summit here, and it’s a big part of what makes our university unique, but if it isn’t intended for students to benefit from it, then it becomes a distraction.
The Bible department is doing it right. It recognizes Summit for its unique atmosphere and plans class schedules to give students the opportunity to be a part of it. All of the activities offered during Summit are wonderfully beneficial to students, but only if we are allowed to attend.
We understand that cancelling all classes on campus for a full three days is pretty unrealistic. This is first and foremost a place of higher education, and three days of cancelled classes would make for a lot of lost knowledge. But there seems to be little to no collaboration between university faculty and Summit. In most departments, Summit is an afterthought to the normal routine.
Perhaps it could be a small things, such as professors giving more leeway during these three days to allow students to attend lectures that occur during regular class time. On Monday/Wednesday classes, allow one free class period for students to attend Summit. Be malleable. We understand that class is important, but to many students, so is Summit.
If giving up class time for Summit isn’t a realistic request, at least cut back on the work for a couple of days. Wait one more week before assigning major tests or projects. If students are encouraged to attend lectures during their “free time,” there actually has to be free time. It’s not free if it’s spent slaving away in the library for tomorrow’s chemistry test.
Summit is an incredible resource for students. All we want is the chance to take advantage of it.
First, my syllabus allows a certain number of absences without penalty. If any of my students wishes to trade English class for Summit, he or she is welcome to do so.
But second, I did cancel one of my classes during Summit, then polled my students the next week. About five out of 25 used that class to attend a Summit lecture. I think the idea of most ACU students relishing free absences to engage in Summit is a pollyannic fiction.