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Snow, sweat and school

Major J-term changes have substantial impact on student athletes.

Shanoah Harren, Reporter

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To J-term or not to J-term – the ever-present inquiry badgering the thoughts and minds of administrative staff during the last few years. This upcoming winter, Jan. 2018, happened to be the decided test subject for starting a new approach to winter break and how J-term is conducted.  


Interim Provost Dr. John Matachek said, “J-term was a time for students to explore courses outside of their major and try special topics classes, but it evolved over the years with more class requirements.”

Students would resort to getting the Hamline Plan demands met quicker and ignored the entire exploration purpose J-term provided. Along with this change in student mindset and additional graduation requirements, another predicament presides in the situation.

“Economical difficulties arise with no tuition revenue to support a whole term of course and academic instruction,” said Dr. Matachek. He also stated “these tighter margins create a loss in providing education.”


These problematic instances and pressing concerns forced the institution’s leaders to step back and take a second look at the now-past model of J-term. As much as these individuals, such as Dr. Matachek, want to keep J-term free of charge for students, it is no longer a possibility with the present-day economic stature. Most other institutions have completely discarded a winter term altogether or have made it full-price per credit, which is was something the administration wanted to avoid. Dr. Matachek said, “we reached a compromise; preserving the value of a J-term with financial visibility by making it half the price per credit of a normal academic semester.”


Upon coming to this compromise, this version of J-term will only be temporary – using it for these next two school seasons before making a more permanent decision. “We are also looking at rearranging the Fall and Spring semesters so that there isn’t as long of a break between the two; starting the spring semester earlier in January to get out even earlier,” said Dr. Matachek. Elimination or full-price tuition charge per credit are looked at as less-desired options.  


Beginning this academic year, J-term, or winter term, will no longer be covered by the fall semester tuition charge. Instead, the term with be charged on a per credit basis at 50% off the normal per credit price, making it $612 per credit to take a class during the month of January. There is no extra charge for housing and dining during the winter if you lived on campus during the fall semester. This part is of great benefit for Hamline students, especially for athletes who need to attend winter practices.  


Many sports programs require athletes to be on or near campus to participate in mandatory practices during J-term, especially in-season sports such as track and field, basketball and hockey. Others are still obligated to attend pre-season and postseason practices as well. The additional price implementation may be hindering for some athletes who had previously enjoyed a J-term class free of charge while attending mandatory practices during their winter break.  Dr. Matachek said. “I think students understand that the school has to be financially responsible,” while recognizing that this may not be as ideal as previous years, it’s still a better alternative than other options.  


Skeptical about the new J-term altercations, Luke Hulshizer, a sophomore Residential Assistant and Track and Field athlete, said, “athletes have to be here for practices – there isn’t much else to do,” as sometimes practices take up a lot of time, and is worried about [how it might affect or make it harder for] “people who wanted to graduate in four years or less.”


Dr. Matachek said, “Any required classes offered during J-term will be present in the Fall and Spring seasons as well, so it won’t be mandatory for students to take a J-term class to graduate in the standard four years.” Dr. Matachek also mentions many ways to keep busy during Winter Break along with hard work during practices by encouraging student athletes to “find productive ways to spend Winter Break – taking those unique classes, doing research, attending the variety of cultural events, seminars, get involved in organizations and enjoy lots of community service,” he said.  


A first-year basketball player, Haley Androli, said, “The way I see it is – I can take a class like a good student, while maybe losing money, or I can be financially responsible and make money by working.” Androli is taking a different perspective on J-term; deciding between taking charge of her finances or adding more to her education here at Hamline.  


Student athletes are just a few of those affected by the modifications. The time has come to decide whether J-term is worth keeping in the present contexts. “If we want to keep J-term, students need to show their interest and take the valuable classes – if not, then there will be more necessary changes,” said Dr. Matachek.  


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Snow, sweat and school