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The Standing Committee on Undergraduate Educational Policy, an FAS panel overseeing the College curriculum, plans to vote Tuesday on a proposal to eliminate shopping week for the Spring 2022 semester.
The proposal — put forth by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar’s Office — suggests hosting an early course registration period ahead of the spring term, citing public health concerns.
In the proposal, FAS Registrar Michael P. Burke wrote that the “rapid increase” in Covid-19 cases at the beginning of the fall 2021 semester served as a motivation for the move to an early course registration model next semester.
“Characteristic overcrowding of classrooms during shopping will contribute to an unsafe environment,” Burke wrote. “We would also be unable to contact trace positive cases if students were not required to register for classes until the fifth day of the term according to the traditional Spring term schedule.”
“Last academic year, the peak of positive COVID cases occurred following move-in during the first week of classes in Spring term,” Burke added, referring to the 2020-21 school year.
Under the proposed registration system, there would be a virtual course preview period and undergraduates would have until Jan. 20 to register for courses before the spring semester begins four days later.
Students have rallied to support shopping week this term, with more than 1,300 Harvard affiliates signing a petition to “bring back shopping week,” the traditional period at the start of the semester during which students can browse classes before finalizing their schedules. For three semesters in a row, the FAS has instead hosted a virtual course preview period.
The Undergraduate Council voted last week to launch an undergraduate-wide referendum on shopping week and officially campaign to “save shopping week, stop early course registration.”
Michael Y. Cheng ’22, a UC representative for Quincy House, encouraged undergraduates to participate in the referendum, which begins Tuesday.
“Shopping week might never come back if we don’t speak up in this referendum,” Cheng said.
Cheng said he wishes the College would “just be transparent” about their discussions around shopping week.
“As far as we’re aware, there haven’t been any listening sessions about shopping week yet,” Cheng said. “There hasn’t been an administrative survey or anything.”
At the committee meeting, administrators will also discuss allowing undergraduates to take Harvard Summer School courses online for credit at the College, as well as instituting a pandemic exception to allow students to take term-time online courses for credit if instructors have been permitted to teach remotely.
The EPC will also discuss forming a subcommittee that would develop a proposal to allow double concentrations.
—Staff writer Meera S. Nair can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Andy Z. Wang can be reached at email@example.com.
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