Saturday classes may sound appalling to the average LSU student, but according to administrators, LSU doesn’t have a choice.
After the onset of Hurricane Ida, the university cancelled an entire week of school. Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Matt Lee said it is university policy that if more than one day of school is cancelled, every day missed must be made up. If only one day is cancelled, that one day does not have to be made up.
“Everybody has done everything they can to make these arrangements work and understand this isn’t ideal for everyone,” Lee said.
Most professors don’t actually hold classes on Saturdays, opting to adjust their syllabi without the make-up days. Lee said some departments that require hands-on practice are more likely to hold the Saturday classes.
Lee said the university is required to have a certain amount of class hours for the academic year to be in compliance with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The accrediting agency could place sanctions on the university if the university didn’t meet the minimum class hours. Lee said in the most extreme case, the university could lose its accreditation. If that were to happen, every degree would be meaningless in the professional world.
Chemical engineering junior Joey Dupre said he was “disgusted yet not surprised” when he heard he’d be having Saturday class.
“I don’t think it’s necessary because most teachers either skip it or don’t teach meaningful material on that day because of poor student turnout,” Dupre said.
Accounting junior Seth Taylor said a lot of learning comes from personal work outside of class. He said Saturday classes helped him learn concepts a little, but he didn’t think the Saturday classes were necessary.
“Whether you went to Saturday class or not, you can probably still do well on the exam,” Taylor said.
Taylor said students, especially those in more demanding majors, should be able to use weekends how they please as a way to recover from the previous week and prepare for the next.
“I think weekends are really important because you get to take a break, do something to take your mind off school and [it] allows you to work on things that you didn’t have time for during the week,” Taylor said.
Taylor said Saturday classes are especially conflicting for students during football season.
“Obviously as an LSU student, football games are the main event on Saturdays,” Taylor said.
Lee said LSU strategically plans Saturday make-up days so that they will never fall on the same day as a home football game. The make-up classes only occur on Saturdays where the LSU football team is on the road.
Lee said the university prioritized weekdays that were originally planned off. These weekdays usually remove breaks such as fall break from the academic calendar. Then when the university runs out of weekdays to replace, it is forced to start using Saturdays.
Dupre said losing half the weekend can affect someone’s mental health negatively and the academic workload can be overwhelming to some students.
“I think it affects everyone’s mental health because I feel the breaks are necessary for students’ mental well-being,” Dupre said.
Lee said he understands Saturday classes pose a lot of problems, but they must happen to stay in compliance with the accrediting agency.
“The basic issue is you’re trying to balance a lot of factors,” Lee said. “The bottom line is, the last thing we want to do is shortchange any student’s education.”