If I had a nickel for every time a Penn student complained that classes started the week before Martin Luther King Day, I could stop using BURSAR. It is odd: we start on a short week and then segue into the long weekend, certainly not enough time to gain momentum or motivation. Since most Penn students dread the agony of academics and would prefer to postpone the horror, why doesn’t Penn get with the program and have classes begin the Tuesday after MLK Day? I've thought of a few explanations for Penn’s scheduling follies. Maybe Penn really understands its students: self-proclaimed work hard/play hard types. Penn realizes that unlike fall semester, spring semester doesn’t have that NSO buffer. Without five days dedicated to socializing, we can’t handle a full week of classes. It’s true … we’d probably implode. The administration figures it will give us a break; ease us into classes. But though I like that thought — and I know that A-Gut can get down with the best of us — I don’t really think Penn’s registrar cares about my social life.
While my first theory doesn't hold, maybe Panhel has enough clout to demand a light class schedule pre-MLK Day. This week sororities/frats/societies began recruiting a new class of soon-to-be pledge bitches. And man, is it time consuming. If freshmen had both academic and Greek bombardment they'd feel overwhelmed, relinquish rush and explode.
Another plausible idea, but I think the real reason we start before the holiday has to do with the man of the week: Martin Luther King, Jr. FYI, Penn plans a week of extensive programming including a full day of community service activities in Houston Hall. If we started after MLK Day, Penn students would miss out on this historic day of service.
Too bad that seems to be the case anyway. This MLK Day, I hauled myself to Houston. Though I didn’t know about these events, I figured other Penn students regularly attend. Nope. The woman manning the “stuff a sock for veterans” booth told me they had a good showing. Apparently 30 mostly non-Penn students constitutes a “good turn out”.
I am aware that some venture off campus on MLK Day to participate in service. And that sorority philanthropy round coincides with the holiday. But, if Penn makes students come to campus early, shouldn’t they try at least a little bit to encourage participation in their programming?