Monday, November 10, 2014

Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a federal holiday, but, at Harvard classes go on.  This year, the holiday is observed for staff, but we'll be teaching.

I can't easily find out when the practice of having classes on Veterans Day became standard.  I found this Crimson article from 2004, but it makes it sound like holding classes (it seems to just mention sections, not actual lectures) was not official policy.  I also am not sure when this dichotomy of the day being a staff holiday, but classes are held, started.  I'm a bit embarrassed to say I haven't noticed this scheduling issue until this year, so perhaps the changes are new.

I understand that, from a teaching and scheduling standpoint, it's a bit annoying with the holidays messing up the teaching schedule.  It's also annoying when your children are out of school for the day for a federal holiday while you have to teach.  Also, it seems a bit odd, if not somewhat unpatriotic, "cancelling" Veterans Day for the students (and faculty), although I know that most people generally do not engage in veteran-specific activities for the holiday.  (That's true of our family, and my wife is a veteran.)    

I suppose I might not really have thought too much about it, except that somehow I noticed that Columbus Day is a university holiday at Harvard, and, because I'm sure most readers do not get enough John Oliver in their diet, here what his show has to say about that.  

Happy Veterans Day.


Harry Lewis said...

It's an absurdity that is meant to balance out other absurdities, such as preserving the number of teaching days, even though the last of those teaching days is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Teaching on Columbus day instead wouldn't help, because it's a Monday (Harvard classes are, right now at least, either MW or TT). I think if Veterans Day falls on a Friday it will again be a non teaching day, not sure about Monday or Wednesday.

GASARCH said...

At Univ of MD at College Park
1) Nobody gets Columbus Day off
2) Nobody gets Veterans Day off
3) Everyone gets MLK day off (this used to not matter for teaching since it was between terms, but we now have a 3-week winter term for mostly 1-credit clases, so it does matter).
4) We used to (and maybe still do) get Veterans day off on Dec 26, Columbus day on Dec 27, Guy Fawkes day on Dec 28, etc as a way of getting the days between Christmas and New Years off
5) My conservative relatives thing that we DON"T get Veterans and Columbus off and DO get MLK day off because we are a liberal school. I doubt thats true.
6) In current times most holidays are merely a day off with no meaning. Was it always this way? There was a lot more talk about MLK day when some states didn't want to celebrate it, or would celebrat Jefferson Davis day instead. Now that the controversy has died down there is much less talk of MLK
or MLK day.
7) It bothers me that Veterans day is not the second monday in Nov. I assume that Veterans want 3-day weekends like the rest of us.
8) Back to your post- it seems ABSURD to have a holiday that some people at a school get off but not others.
9) When I was at Harvard my memory is that Harvard did NOT get Patriots day off but MIT did, allegedly because Harvard was a Tory School during the revolution. Is that really true?

Anonymous said...

7) "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month"

But yeah, if no one knows that anymore, it's probably become a pretty pointless holiday.