New school year brings new calendar

As students plan for next school year, they will need to take into account new changes to the academic calendar, which change the lengths of interterm and summer as well as the placement of spring break.


After two years of research and consideration, administration has decided to change Biola’s academic calendar. The changes include eliminating interterm to make a longer summer break, moving spring break to the last week of February and starting fall semester on Monday, rather than Wednesday. Their intention includes aligning the trimester and semester schedules to begin, end and break at the same time.

The trimester schedule, which is used by specialized degree-completion and some online programs, consists of seven-week sessions with a one-week break between the sessions. These sessions remain separate from the traditional semester schedules used by most undergraduate and graduate programs.

“[Trimester is a] technical term that can get confused and especially can confuse your financial aid officers,” said Patricia Pike, vice provost for academic administration. “So most of our students in the undergrad programs right now and the grad programs right now are on semester schedules and they will stay on semester schedules. We’re just moving the timing of the spring semester.”


Pushing spring semester back, thus eliminating interterm, will extend summer to 15 weeks, making room for an additional full-length term. In addition to a few classes which will be offered for the full 15 weeks, two full trimesters will now fit in summer. This allows any student to attend the two seven-week classes during the summer, rather than one three-week class in January and another class in summer.

“It’s not like you’re going to be able to take any class you can take any fall [or] spring in the summer,” said Eyvette Min, assistant director of academic advising. “You probably want to think of fall and spring as your main semesters instead of thinking you can plan to do three full-time semesters.”

By having longer sessions in the summer, administration hopes to help students retain what they learn better than they would during the three-week sessions of interterm, according to Pike.

“So, say you would normally take a course in January and a course for summer session,” Pike said. “You could take both of those courses for summer session and they’d actually fit into your day and you’d actually be able to still think, which is good for learning.”


By ending the spring semester earlier, Pike and Min also expect this to benefit graduating students by getting them into the job and internship markets faster, which will allow them to compete with graduates from other universities.

“It’s probably particularly exciting for students who are planning on graduating in the spring because it means that they’ll be done with their classes and they’ll be done with their degree sooner in May and then they can start looking for jobs sooner, kind of along with others graduating from other schools,” Min said.

Spring break will also move in order to align with the break between the trimester sessions. Starting next year, spring break will always fall on the eighth week of the semester, rather than the week following Easter.

“So, that will mean that things like the last day to withdraw from classes with some kind of refund will come just at that time, just around spring break. And we’ll all get time off, which is just coming at mid-term [and] will be less tiring than if we wait for Easter,” Pike said. “But we’ll still get Good Friday off, though… Can’t be a Christian school and not take Good Friday off.”

While students have concerns regarding spring semester and vacation times, administration also took into concerns from faculty and staff regarding admissions, as well as overlapping schedules.

“[If] it doesn’t align itself, then you have to have different enrollment, different registration, you have to have different admissions processes,” Pike said. “If faculty are trying to teach in both programs, then sometimes they’re only teaching one or two classes and other times they’re teaching five or six classes. Your personnel can’t do that. So it’s [a] very expensive proposition to stagger the two kinds of programs like that.”

One of the faculty’s main concerns included a loss of instructional days, especially for classes that require additional lab classes. In order to retain instructional time, the fall semester will start on Monday, rather than on a Wednesday as in previous years.

“To fit three terms in and still have things like Thanksgiving and Christmas, Good Friday and vacations like those… you tend to start squishing the semester a little bit and then the faculty lose instructional days,” Pike said. “So to get in as many instructional days as we can, we’re starting on a Monday, and that means the week before that will be orientation week.”

Because of the earlier date, new students will now move in on Thursday, and returning students will move in on Friday. Because of the loss of a day, Student Development has also eliminated the traditional beach day.

“Something had to shift and that full day that we lost [beach day] was one of the things that we had to let go of,” said Matthew Hooper, associate dean of students. “But in many ways, we’ve tried to maintain as much as possible of the events that capture kind of like the opening weekend experience and kind of [the] ethos of Biola, and I think it’ll be a great experience even with the changes.”

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SMU announces new president-elect

After two years of only one candidate running for president, candidates for Student Missionary Union president must now submit an application and proceed with an interview process, rather than running for election.


Senior public relations major and director of administrative services Angel Jesudasen proposed the change to the elections committee in October, hoping to refine the process to better fit the role of the SMU president.

“The more and more I was a part of it, the more I realized that the way the SMU president was chosen wasn’t really being effective,” Jesudasen said. “Their sole purpose is [not] to represent the students, but more to serve the board of directors… and then they serve their staff so that their staff can serve the students.”


After submitting an application detailing their work experience and providing references, each candidate must sit through two rounds of panel interviews composed of faculty, student leaders and members of the SMU board of directors.

Each panelist will receive a pre-set rubric structured around five to 10 categories covering knowledge of SMU, leadership style and passion for diversity. Jesudasen, senior public relations major and director of marketing and communications Sarah Giovannini and director of Student Programming and Activities and Student Government Association advisor Laura Igram designed the rubric. The final rubric came from comparing over 20 rubrics from various outside schools as well as different departments across campus.

“It’s not that we don’t trust the students to make that kind of decision, because obviously we want … student input,” Giovannini said. “It’s just that it’s a different way of getting that student input that ensures more groups are being represented as opposed to just having a popular vote where some people might be discouraged from voting.”


The candidate with the highest average score will be offered the position. In the case of a tie, the current SMU president and director of administrative services will make the final decision.

Liam Timoti, senior communications major and SMU president, hopes the new process will eliminate the tendency for the most popular person to win, ultimately continue to help the organization thrive.

“This job isn’t really meant for the most popular,” Timoti said. “Not running against anybody is kind of hard. We feel the interview process helps encourage more people to want to apply and it would also be a lot more refined in getting the right person.”

Applications for president are due on Feb. 17 while panel interviews will take place Feb. 24 and Mar. 3. The final decision will be made Mar. 10, following the same timeline as the SGA elections

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Gov. Brown presents financial dilemma

Private schools across California find themselves gathering to fight against Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget for 2017-18, which includes cutting the Cal Grant by 11.2 percent.

$1000 CUTS

The cut comes as part of Gov. Brown’s phase-out of the middle class scholarship program and would cut an average of $1,000 from each individual grant. Although the cut would not affect students currently receiving Cal Grants, if approved, the cut would apply to incoming students for the 2017-18 academic year.

With this percentage, the state’s general funds cost will likely reduce $115.8 million by 2020. Over the course of two years, the last time the Cal Grants were considered for reduction, the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities planned for the reduction.

“Two years ago there was a proposed cut and the cut wasn’t approved but instead the Cal Grant as a whole was put on hold, on stay. That means no one could propose a cut for two years so we knew that this was coming, we just didn’t know exactly how much they were going to propose for it to be cut,” said Brenda Velasco, director of communications.

The AICCU also connected with California legislators and private institutions across the country to build a campaign in support of not cutting the Cal Grant.

“We are the center voice for independent non-profit institutions in California,” said president of AICCU Kristen Soares. “And in that capacity we represent the sector in the legislative arena and so we have a leadership role to ensure our colleges’ campuses are aware of the cut and secondly we work together to stop this cut and restore the sector.”


Shortly after the budget announcement, AICCU reached out to Biola University Communications and Marketing with help launching the campaign, “What $1,000 means to me…”, due to the fact that the cut would take approximately $1,000 from each individual grant. The campaign focuses on students’ own personal stories and testimonies of students who rely on the grant to attend the college of their choice.

“The average family income for a Cal Grant A recipient is approximately $40,000 and for a Cal Grant B family income of four the average family income is $20,000,” Soares said. “So when you think about that, a thousand dollar reduction is significant and it would harm potentially a student’s ability to continue to access an independent institution.”

UCM’s immediate response included setting up a table by the fountain to gather student signatures on a letter signed by Student Government Association president and senior business and Bible major Jessica Snow. At a hearing in Sacramento on Feb. 28, two faculty members and two students presented the letter alongside delegates and students from 25 other private colleges and universities.

Each student who attended, all current Cal Grant recipients, shared their personal stories with the legislators, hoping to personalize the detrimental effect the cut would have on thousands of students in California. The four delegates from Biola met with the two elected officials for Biola’s district and received a lot of positive feedback in support of opposing the cut, according to Velasco.

“What’s interesting about that is that [AICCU] shared with us that it’s only .0006 percent of the state budget,” Velasco said. “So this is why there has to be a lot of advocacy, a lot of student stories to share how even though for the state maybe that’s not a big amount, but for a student, $1000 is significant. It can make or break whether or not they attend the school of their choice or they’re not able to attend.”


In addition to talking to elected officials about opposing the cut, delegates also discussed supporting a bill, Assembly Bill 1166. The bill would protect the Cal Grant in the future from any cuts, by changing it to a formula calculated from a student’s GPA and annual income. However, if the bill does not go through, Biola has created a short-term solution to assist the incoming class for next year.

“We have a contingency of resources to be able to fund those students if the Cal Grant was cut in the fall,” Velasco said. “So we have a short-term solution and so if that were to happen, then we would implement the short-term solution and then work on a lot more long-term solution because we care about our students that are obviously applying and trying to enroll so we would take care of them and make sure they are still able to attend Biola.”

Future hearings will occur on March 14, which President Barry Corey will attend, and the budget will be revised again in May, before being enacted in the summer. Freshman biological science major Desmond Simmons attended the previous hearing and stressed the importance of continuing to fight against the cut.

“It gives us the choice of choosing public versus private,” Simmons said. “So raising awareness of not cutting that because it’s literally what’s bringing kids to school and for them to make a better future for them and their community so if we cut that, less people are going to a school of their choice and then less people are in the workforce… So I feel like it’s such a big part of what’s bringing up this next generation. We can’t just cut it.”

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