While Iowa State has never canceled classes for the Iowa presidential caucuses, and is not canceling classes this year, students who want to attend the caucuses are encouraged to speak with their instructors to determine if they may be excused from class to attend.
"Faculty are in the best position to decide how to teach their classes and support students' needs," said senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert. "Decisions about whether to excuse class for events like the caucuses, athletic contests or other events are best handled locally and on a case-by-case basis between faculty and students."
The 2016 caucuses are the first since 2000 to conflict with Iowa State classes. The 2012 and 2008 caucuses both were held during winter break, and the 2004 caucus was held on the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday.
According to Faculty Senate president Rob Wallace, Iowa State already has a comprehensive excused absence policy, developed by faculty, to address the wide variety of student absences that come up over the course of the semester, including the caucuses.
"We encourage students to speak with their instructors prior to the caucuses, or any planned absence, to determine if there is flexibility in class times, if their absence may be excused or if provisions can be made to make up coursework," he said.
Consider the impact
Wickert noted that the situation for a three-hour laboratory that meets only on Monday nights is very different from a one-hour class that meets three times each week.
For spring semester, 884 students are enrolled in 49 class sections that meet between 7 and 9 p.m. on Monday evenings. All of the sections are Monday-only offerings. Students in these classes already have one less class session this semester, since Jan. 18 was a university holiday.
"Missing another week of a course represents a lot of the total time available for learning," Wickert said. "We need to be careful that we're not short-changing students on course content or compressing too much material into the remaining weeks."