Macalester adds free module for summer 2021

Christian Wibe, Contributing Writer

During a webinar on Wednesday, July 8, President Suzanne Rivera announced that the fifth module, set for the summer of 2021, will be offered free of cost for students who have completed each of the previous four modules.

If a student completes both the fall and spring semesters, then they can take two free classes in the summer module. As for students who have not completed one of the first four modules, the summer module will function as make-up in place of the missed module.

The summer module will last seven and a half weeks, equivalent to the modules during the fall and spring semesters. In an email to The Mac Weekly, Provost Karine Moe explained that senior staff have not finalized many details yet, such as course offerings and mode of instruction.

Offering a summer module means asking faculty to cut their breaks short by several weeks. One benefit for non-tenure track faculty who teach during the fifth module is the extra income in a season when classes are usually not taught.

“It would be a huge incentive if there was additional pay, so I think that’s an amazing offer —I don’t know that they’re making that offer to a lot of professors,” art professor Summer Hills-Bonczyk said.

However, more time spent teaching would mean less time for faculty to pursue research in their field. The summer months are not only ideal for professors’ research, but also for students’ professional development.

“They [faculty] have student research assistants and so there’s opportunity for students as well when professors are doing research over the summer, so if it cuts into that time that does take some opportunity away for students,” Bonczyk-Hills said.

That said, having students on campus during the summer also presents a possibility for increased engagement with the Twin Cities, which can be harder to find during the busy — and often well-below-freezing — regular semesters. 

“Depending on what’s going on with the public health situation in the cities at that moment, it might be a nice opportunity to engage in some art events in the cities, visit a sculpture park, see some art around town,” Bonczyk-Hills said concerning her hypothetical summer course.

Students studying the natural sciences could look forward to a sunnier landscape for their fieldwork. Neuroscience major Jason Tran ’23  describes cold winters as a significant deterrent to field trips.

“There might be some courses that might be a lot more ideal to be taken at that time when, physically speaking, the weather in Minnesota is at its finest and doing fieldwork will be easier,” Tran said.

Tran is still concerned for the financial side of the summer module.

“I would definitely be interested in using that module if… they have a way of also covering or heavily subsidizing room and board, because that…  is another very significant expense on top that I worry about,” Tran said.

On top of that, seniors who are graduating in spring 2021, may not be able to take advantage of a summer module. However, Giselle Cohen ’21 said she might consider taking a summer class, depending mostly on the mode of instruction.

“If we’re back in person… I’ve always wanted to take theater classes, which I really didn’t have the time and space for,” Cohen said.

Although the summer module could provide time for supplementary education, that isn’t necessarily a time when students are available to take classes. Many students also fill their summers with other jobs and activities.

 “I don’t even know if I’m going to be in Minnesota for a fifth module,” Cohen said, who listed finding a job and housing as priorities for post-Macalester life.

International students, in particular, have found themselves unsure about a fifth module’s implications for their unique circumstances in relation to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

“If I’ll have to stay a second summer to… take a course that would only be available during summer, then… I’ll definitely have to do that,” Feven Gebresilassie ’23 said. “[It] also depends on… if borders will still be open or closed or if there’s still flights.” 

For Gebresilassie, the free module may not help her as much as going home would in the uncertainty of a global crisis.

“I’ll obviously take it again, if… they’re giving out courses that… are only available during summer, but I do also want to go home and rest,” Gebresilassie said. 

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